Ireland swept Scotland aside to start their 2019 Rugby World Cup in fine style, the Men in Green marching to a dominant 27-3 win in Yokohama.
Despite having designs on the Webb Ellis Cup, and at least targeting a first-ever trip to the semi-finals with their opponents are just concentrating on getting out of the group, Ireland were expected to be severely tested by their fellow home nation.
But it was a one-sided affair from the start as Ireland’s ferocious forwards dominated the first half, while staunch Irish defence kept the Dark Blues as they improved after the break.
The front five in-particular were on fire as James Ryan, Rory Best and Tadhg Furlong barged over for first-half scores, with Andrew Conway crossing for a bonus point try in a second half that marked by a downpour.
Here is how we rated the Ireland players:
Cian Healy 7: Came into World Cup with injury cloud over head. A souped up terrier for the 50 minutes he was on the field.
Rory Best 7: How did he ground the ball while lying on his back and on top of a pile of bodies? Superb awareness from the skipper to start his Irish swansong. Missed just one tackle.
Tadhg Furlong 7: Bulldog prop bulldozed over as Ireland’s forwards ran riot. Scotland could not keep a leash on him, making nine tackles.
Iain Henderson 7: Ryan may be the poster boy but it was his lock partner’s barnstorming run that set up the opening score. Forced a turnover too on a busy afternoon.
James Ryan 8: Capped meteoric rise with try on World Cup debut. Giant lock was a handful throughout, carrying ball a team joint high 15 times and also joint leading Ireland with 14 tackles.
Peter O’Mahony 6: Stalwart only played 26 minutes as he was replaced following Furlong’s try. Ireland will sweat over his fitness.
Josh Van Der Flier 6: Completed 100 per cent of his 10 tackles but made only two metres. Game disrupted by injury.
CJ Stander 9: Burst into space looking for bonus point score inside 30 minutes, but no support. Kept driving holes through Scotland. Made third most metres in green and joint most runs.
Conor Murray 6: Sharp and alert from the off, passing was crisp. Took on kicking duties from half-back partner Sexton, knocking over one conversion but missing a penalty. Faded.
Johnny Sexton 5: Missed wide conversion, Murray took over, which could indicate an issue. Strangely on the periphery as forwards dominated.
Jacob Stockdale 6: Formidable forwards led the way, but his cute chip and chase almost led to a score. Immense tackle on Stuart Hogg as Scotland pressed for late try.
Bundee Aki 6: Tenacious, superb steal to set up early chance. Couple of brutish runs early on but then came off as HIA ruled him out for rest of the game.
Garry Ringrose 4: Couldn’t get going as he made only nine metres going forward and three passes, missed two tackles too.Chris Farrell was far more vibrant.
Andrew Conway 7: Poor start with a knock on under little pressure. Made up for it with kick, chase and tackle on Hogg. Then got into gear with a dangerous run down right wing. Capped his rise with an easy try.
Jordan Larmour 8: Confident early take under high ball, followed by a penetrating run. Then sprung up at a ruck to win a penalty. Made 69 metres from 11 runs as he looked menacing. Will first-choice Rob Kearney get back in?
Jack Conan 6: Busy early as he was used to cover Van der Flier and O’Mahony injuries. Solid rather than spectacular.
Chris Farrell 8: On for the concussed Aki. Used powerful frame to batter beleaguered Scots. Beautiful behind the back offload to McGrath. Charge through almost led to fifth score. Only Larmour made more metres than his 53.
Andrew Porter 6: Came on and got involved, without shining.
Luke McGrath 6: Busy when he was introduced, a smart offload and making 11 metres.
Tadhg Beirne 3: On the field barely 10 minutes before shown a yellow for killing the ball.
Jack Carty 6: Kicked an easy penalty, lively but little chance to strut stuff.
Dave Kilcoyne 7: Four runs from replacement prop as Ireland looked to sustain stranglehold. Five tackles.
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