Ireland got their World Cup campaign underway with a seven-try thrashing of Canada in Cardiff on Saturday.
Tries from Sean O’Brien, Johnny Sexton, Iian Henderson and Dave Kearney in the first 35 minutes secured Joe Schmidt’s side the extra point. Sexton’s boot also kicked three conversions and a penalty to give Ireland a 29-0 lead at the break.
Ireland struggled early in the second half when Paul O’Connell found himself in the bin. But further tries did eventually come through Sean Cronin, Rob Kearney and Jared Payne, with Ian Madigan, who had replaced Sexton, converting all three.
Canada competed early on but when stand in Captain Jamie Cudmore was sin-binned the Canucks conceded two crucial tries. Their only score of the game came through winger DTH van der Merwe in the second half, which was converted by Nathan Hirayama.
After a patient start Ireland took the lead when Sexton successfully landed the simplest of kicks from in front of the posts after 14 minutes.
Canada’s Cudmore was sin-binned after 17 minutes for blatantly infringing at the base of a ruck and the Maple Leafs were punished conceding two quickfire tries in his absence
The first came just two minutes later when O’Brien profited from Irelands rolling maul, touching down for his sixth international try. And Sexton converted confidently, 10-0.
Lock Henderson then barged his way over for his first international try after 25 minutes, with Sexton again adding the extras successfully
Sexton then scored a try of his own after 28 minutes. The fly-half received a lovely offload from O’Brien to race in and dive over in the corner, but his attempted conversion shot wide of the left post.
Ireland turned it on again after 35 minutes, switching the ball from left to right with Rob Kearney selling a beautiful dummy before touching down. And this time Sexton added the extras to give the Irish a 29-0 lead at the break.
Two minutes after the restart Captain O’Connell found himself in the bin tas Ireland started the second half slowly.
But they did get their fifth try after 67 minutes when replacement Sean Cronin forced his way under the posts, and Ian Madigan’s conversion was good.
Canada then immediately cancelled out Cronin’s try with their opening score. Speedster wing van der Merwe, who was unarguably the Canucks best player, raced in from 30 metres to touch down, with Hirayama converting, 36-7.
But in the blink of an eye Rob Kearney crossed for the men in green at the other end. The score was the 29-year old’s first in 11 Tests, with Madigan again converting the simple kick.
Centre Jared Payne then touched down Ireland’s seventh and final try right at the end, with Madigan, who had impressed since replacing Sexton, converting again.
Next up for Ireland is a physical test against Romania at Wembley on September 27th while Canada will look to bounce back a day prior at Elland Road.