Rugby Column Number 165: The Kildare Nationalist – September 24 2019


Beirne plays a part as Ireland win big in Japan

By Daire Walsh

EADESTOWN’S Tadhg Beirne appeared off the bench at the International Stadium in Yokohama on Sunday as Ireland began their World Cup campaign in flying fashion.

Long earmarked as the game that could determine the ultimate winners of Pool A, Joe Schmidt’s side secured an utterly convincing 27-3 bonus point triumph at the expense of a disappointing Scotland. Even though they will have to negotiate their way through subsequent encounters with host nation Japan, Russia and Samoa, Ireland are now expected to finish at the summit of the group.

Following South Africa’s defeat to defending champions New Zealand on Saturday, a last-eight encounter between the Green Army and the Springboks – at Tokyo Stadium, Chōfu on October 20 – appears to be in the pipeline.

A lot of rugby will be played before Ireland can switch focus to the knockout rounds, but their clinical performance against the Scots signalled their intent for the tournament. Despite returning to full training in the days leading up to their pool opener, Athy native Joey Carbery couldn’t secure a spot in the match day 23.

It was a similar situation for the established duo of Rob Kearney and Keith Earls, while Robbie Henshaw was ruled out through injury. This ensured that Jack Carty (Connacht) and Chris Farrell (Munster) joined Luke McGrath amongst the replacements, with the aforementioned Beirne being favoured ahead of Jean Kleyn as second row cover.

Monsoon-like conditions were anticipated for this game, but it wasn’t until the second half that the conditions truly took a turn for the worse. By then, Ireland had already established a firm foothold on the proceedings.

After Leinster’s James Ryan had touched down – via superb build-up by lock partner Iain Henderson and CJ Stander – skipper Rory Best and tighthead prop Tadhg Furlong followed suit with clinical tries of their own.

Half-backs Jonathan Sexton and Conor Murray also added conversions, ensuring Ireland brought a 19-3 cushion into the break. Scotland had offered very little in attack during the opening 40 minutes and despite some early pressure on the resumption, they failed to come to terms with the Irish challenge.

Andrew Conway crossed the whitewash just shy of the hour mark to seal maximum points and Carty subsequently slotted a routine penalty inside the final-quarter. Bernie deputised for Henderson in the 58th-minute, but a needless yellow card saw him spending the final 10 on the sideline.

Nevertheless, he will remain in contention for their meeting with Japan on Saturday, while Carbery is also set to make his World Cup debut.

Meanwhile, there was success at Energia Park on Saturday evening for Kildare duo Jenny Murphy and Meabh O’Brien. Making her first start since recovering from an ACL injury, Murphy lined out in midfield – alongside Sene Naoupu – for Leinster’s Interprovincial Championship decider against Connacht.

O’Brien was named on the bench for this women’s rugby showcase and thanks to tries from Lindsay Peat, Elise O’Byrne-White, Grace Miller, Hannah O’Connor and Judy Bobbett, a 25-12 victory helped the Blues to retain their title.

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