Autumn Internationals: Ireland 40-9 Samoa

Double debut delight for Kearney

Ireland wore down an under-strength Samoa in the second half to run out comfortable winners in a scrappy opening autumn Test in Dublin.

Scrum domination help Ireland lead 14-6 by half-time with Peter O'Mahony running in a try for the home side.

George Pisi's sin-binning was exploited by the Irish after the break as replacement Sean O'Brien notched a try.

Debutant replacement Dave Kearney added two tries with Fergus McFadden also touching down as the Samoans tired.

The game appeared a tricky start to the Joe Schmidt era as Ireland faced a Samoa side whose world ranking of seventh put them one place above the Irish.

But the visitors were without several of their frontline players including Stade Francais centre Gavin Williams and Toulouse prop Census Johnston.

Joe Schmidt's mixed feelings after Ireland's win over Samoa

Debutant loose-head prop Jack McGrath earned a penalty by producing an impressive squeeze in the opening scrum which yielded Jackson's first successful penalty in the third minute.

And McGrath's impressive work in the scrum then contributed to an early departure for Samoa tight-head Leicester's Logovi'i Mulipola who suffered a suspected calf injury.

But while Ireland were dominant in the scrum, Samoa were showing the early enterprise in terms of ball in hand as Tusi Pisi and Alapat Leiua tested the Irish defence with a couple of runs from deep.

Leiua's run forced Mike McCarthy to concede a penalty which fly-half Pisi slotted to level proceedings and Tommy Bowe then needed to produce a big tackle in his own 22 to halt centre George Pisi.

Ireland's scrum superiority set up a second successful Jackson penalty in the 21st minute with the Ulster youngster finding the target from over 40 metres.

And Samoa's scrum struggles contributed to the game's opening try in the 26th minute after replacement James Johnston had been penalised by referee Steve Walsh.

Jackson's penalty put play into the Samoan 22 and after Devin Toner had soared to win the line-out, the Irish pack rumbled over the line with O'Mahony getting the touchdown after a 20-yard shunt.

However, the Samoans regrouped with Pisi slotting his second penalty after an O'Mahony infringement and the fly-half should have further reduced the Irish lead three minutes later when he struck the woodwork from the edge of the home 22.

At that stage the Irish were struggling for fluency with Samoa's hooker Ole Avei getting through a power of work in the loose.

But the Irish were able to extend their lead in first-half injury-time as Jackson slotted a tricky penalty from near the touchline after Samoan centre Pisi had been sin-binned for a tip tackle on Bowe following an Irish attack.

With the Samoans down to 14 men at the start of the second half, the Irish must have sensed the chance to score vital points.

And the score duly came in the 47th minute as replacement O'Brien reached for the score after Brian O'Driscoll had chased down a clever Jackson kick and flicked the ball up between his legs to keep play alive.

The closing quarter saw a plethora of Irish substitutions with new squad captain Paul O'Connell introduced for his first international appearance since the 2012 Six Nations contest against France.

Tusi Pisi and Brando Vaaulu's nasty clash of heads ended both men's night prematurely, with Pisi receiving lengthy on-field treatment before being carried off on a stretcher.

Pisi's exit saw Northampton's Kahn Fotuali'i kicking Samoa's third penalty but the Irish responded with Rob Kearney setting up his debutant brother Dave to score in the corner.

With gaps starting to appear in the Samoan defence, McFadden completed his industrious performance with a try after good work by Gordon D'Arcy and Dave Kearney then ran in his second try in the closing moments.

Jackson missed the final conversion but his six out of eight kicking strike-rate and overall performance in open play suggests the Ulsterman represents genuine competition to Jonathan Sexton for the Ireland number 10 shirt.


Ireland: Rob Kearney; Tommy Bowe, Brian O'Driscoll, Gordon D'Arcy, Fergus McFadden; Paddy Jackson, Conor Murray; Jack McGrath, Rory Best, Mike Ross; Devin Toner, Mike McCarthy; Peter O'Mahony, Chris Henry, Jamie Heaslip.

Replacements: Sean Cronin for Best 61, Cian Healy for McGrath 61, Declan Fitzpatrick for Ross 61, Paul O'Connell for O'Mahony 54, Sean O'Brien for Henry 35, Eoin Reddan for Murray 60, Ian Madigan for O'Driscoll 71, Dave Kearney for Bowe 61

Samoa: Faatoina Autagavaia; Alapat Leiua, George Pisi, Johnny Leota, Brando Vaalu; Tusi Pisi, Kahn Fotuali'i (capt); Sakaria Taulafo, Ole Avei, Logovi'i Mulipola; Faatiga Lemalu, Teofilo Paulo; Ofisa Treviranus, Jack Lam, Taiasina Tuifua.

Replacements: Tii Paulo for Avei 51, Viliamu Afatia for Taulafo 75, James Johnston for Mulipola 8, Joe Tekori for Lemala 51, Alafoti Faosiliva for F Paulo, Jeremy Su'a T Piso 56, Isaia Tuifua G Pisi 76, Fautua Otto for Vaaula 56

Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)

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