Rugby World Cup 2015: Ireland 50-7 Canada
|Ireland (29) 50|
|Tries: O'Brien, Henderson, Sexton, D Kearney, Cronin, R Kearney, Payne Cons: Sexton 3, Madigan 3 Pens: Sexton|
|Canada (0) 7|
|Try: Van Der Merwe Con: Hirayama|
Ireland produced a composed and ruthless display as they secured a comprehensive win over outclassed Canada in the Pool D World Cup opener.
Tries from Sean O'Brien, Iain Henderson, Johnny Sexton and Dave Kearney secured Ireland's bonus point before half-time.
Sean Cronin, Rob Kearney and Jared Payne added further tries in the second half at the Millennium Stadium.
DTH Van Der Merwe snatched a breakaway reply for Canada.
After the recent warm-up defeats by Wales and England, Ireland were back to their clinical best with Sexton the orchestrator.
The fly-half sprinted clear of the Canadian defence to score his first-half try as the Irish took total control after a slightly subdued beginning.
Loose-head prop Cian Healy made his return to action following neck surgery as he came on in the second half to complete a thoroughly satisfactory afternoon for Ireland coach Joe Schmidt.
Job done by Ireland
After a lack of physicality in their two recent defeats, Ireland's forwards had a much more dynamic afternoon as flanker O'Brien looked back to something like his best and Henderson again excelled.
Henderson demonstrated his appetite for work in a performance highlighted by his 25th-minute try as he burst past three attempted tacklers with a close-range finish.
Healy went close to scoring a try of his own after his introduction following the hour mark and, crucially, Ireland appeared to emerge from the contest without picking up any major injuries.
As has been the case during their two recent successful Six Nations campaigns, Ireland performed the basics extremely well with the set-piece also rock solid.
High Irish tempo in first half
The Canadians produced some early endeavour as they charged into Ireland's 22 but Sexton's 14th-minute penalty was soon followed by O'Brien's sixth international try as the Irish exploited the sin-binning of Canada captain Jamie Cudmore.
With Cudmore still off, Henderson burst past three tackles to notch Ireland's next try in the 25th minute before Sexton scorched clear of the Canadian defence moments later after O'Brien's clever inside pass.
The high Ireland tempo yielded Dave Kearney's bonus-point clinching try before the break with Canada winger Van Der Merwe denied a reply following a forward pass by Nathan Hirayama.
Canadian intercept try
Leading 29-0 at half-time, the Irish efficiency wavered somewhat in the second half, with Paul O'Connell sin-binned soon after the interval for seizing an intercept from an offside position.
Ireland coach Schmidt introduced a plethora of substitutions with Healy coming on for his first action since May and Sexton called to the bench after his impressive afternoon.
But the opposition were also producing praiseworthy resolve and after replacement hooker Cronin scored Ireland's fifth try, Canada did finally get on the scoreboard with 10 minutes remaining as wing Van der Merwe charged clear after intercepting Payne's attempted grubber kick on halfway.
However, that only spurred Ireland to produce a strong finish as Payne regrouped to score Ireland's final try in the 76th minute shortly after a Keith Earls break set up Rob Kearney to touch down.
Man of the Match - Johnny Sexton
After having to deal with back-foot ball in Ireland's two most recent games, Sexton was back to his brilliant best as he kicked flawlessly and also showed an impressive turn of foot to run in Ireland's third try.
Sexton is probably more important to Ireland's World Cup prospects than even Paul O'Connell or Conor Murray.
So once he had produced his first-half brilliance, Schmidt wasn't going to wait long in the second half before calling his fly-half star ashore.
What they said - Satisfied Schmidt
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt:"I felt we built our way into the game pretty well and I think Canada showed why they deserved the respect we showed them. They are a very combative side.
"For us to build our way into the game and successfully put a few phases together effectively, to build that scoreboard pressure on them as well, was satisfying."
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- Johnny Sexton (508) became the third player to score 500 points for Ireland with his 14 point haul in this match
- Ireland have won their opening match in the last five Rugby World Cups
- Canada and Ireland have met seven times in international matches, with the Irish winning six and one match drawn
- Ireland have reached the quarter-final stage in all but two World Cup competitions (1999 and 2007), but have never made the semi-finals
Ireland: R. Kearney, D. Kearney, Payne, Fitzgerald, Earls; Sexton, Murray; McGrath, Best, Ross; Henderson, O'Connell, O'Mahony, O'Brien, Heaslip.
Replacements: Zebo for Fitzgerald (80), Madigan for Sexton (54), Healy for McGrath (60), Cronin for Best (60), White for Ross (60), Ryan for O'Connell (75), Henry for O'Brien (63).
Not used: Reddan.
Sin bin: O'Connell (42).
Canada: Evans, Hassler, Hearn, Blevins, van der Merwe, Hirayama, McRorie, Buydens, Barkwill, Wooldridge, Beukeboom, Cudmore, Gilmour, Moonlight, Carpenter.
Replacements: Underwood for Evans (41), Trainor for Hassler (41), Mack for McRorie (49), Sinclair for Buydens (48), Piffero for Barkwill (63), Tiedemann for Wooldridge (66), Thorpe for Underwood (80).
Not used: Sears-Duru.
Sin bin: Cudmore (17).
Ref: Glen Jackson (New Zealand).