Ireland 60-5 Japan: Johnny Sexton scores 16 points on 100th cap as hosts blow Japan away

By Michael MorrowBBC Sport NI at Aviva Stadium
Sexton celebrates try
Sexton's try came as Ireland blew Japan away in a one-sided contest
Autumn internationals: Ireland v Japan
Ireland (29) 60
Tries: Lowe, Conway 3, Gibson Park, Sexton, Aki, Ringrose, Healy Cons: Sexton 4, Carbery 2 Pen: Sexton
Japan (0) 5
Try: Fifita

Johnny Sexton produced a try-scoring display on his 100th cap as his slick Ireland side dismantled Japan.

The 36-year-old fly-half contributed 16 points as Andrew Conway scored a hat-trick in a brilliant nine-try performance from the hosts in Dublin.

James Lowe and Jamison Gibson Park crossed before the break with Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki and Cian Healy touching down in the second half.

It was a perfect Irish dress rehearsal for next week's visit of New Zealand.

Against the side that derailed their 2019 World Cup campaign with a stunning win, Ireland expected a far tougher test, but Japan barely threw a punch aside from Siosaia Fifita's 57th minute try.

Farrell's vision taking shape

When Andy Farrell took over as head coach his public desire to pursue a more dynamic approach sounded the right note with Ireland fans, but early performances failed to capture the imagination.

In recent matches the tide has started to turn and the free-flowing style that Farrell is seeking has started coming to the fore. Saturday's win, their sixth in a row, was the most complete showing of his reign.

Having packed the front eight with players that are comfortable in the loose with ball in hand, Farrell's side made full use of the pitch and found space out wide for Lowe and Conway to exploit.

Lowe's try after four minutes, a straight sprint for the corner having been put away by Aki and Jack Conan, settled early nerves before Conway's beautiful score after a flowing move from left to right ignited the crowd of roughly 40,000 inside the Aviva Stadium.

Ireland celebrate Andrew Conway's first try
Wings Conway and Lowe are now in pole position to start against New Zealand next week

Having crossed for his second on 19 minutes Conway was denied a first-half hat-trick by a matter of millimetres as a video review determined Kotaro Matsushima had grounded the ball just before the Munster wing.

When Japan famously beat Ireland at the World Cup two years ago they used sheer power to break their opponents' will after conceding two early tries.

There was never any indication of such a turn of events being replicated in Dublin, with Japan seeking to build momentum having won a penalty at an Irish scrum only for a ferocious Garry Ringrose hit on Timothy Lafaele to force a turnover and ensure the momentum remained entirely with the hosts.

Gibson Park, who gave a strong audition for the starting jersey in next week's meeting with the All Blacks, collected Ringrose's offload to cross for his first Test score.

Twelve years on from his debut, the stage was set for Sexton to become the seventh Irishman to reach 100 appearances, having missed Ireland's two summer games.

Although frustrated to be made to wait, Sexton may now well be glad that his milestone came in front of 40,000 adoring fans - as his 48th minute try was met by undoubtedly the loudest noise of the day as Ireland ran riot against a side temporarily down to 14 with Atsushi Sakate in the sin-bin.

The fly-half remains the key cog in Ireland's machine, and works best when those around him are timing their movements to his beat.

This was the case here, with the whole side seemingly in step as again they went right across the pitch for Aki to step inside his man and touch down after a move started by bruising runs from props Andrew Porter and Tadhg Furlong.

The front row went off before the hour mark to a deserved standing ovation as Fifita put Japan on the scoreboard, but in truth it did little to interrupt the flow of the game.

Ringrose jinked inside to claim his side's sixth try before Conway made use of a fortuitous bounce to complete his hat-trick.

Replacement Healy rounded off the scoring with the game's final act to send a thoroughly satisfied crowd home with a sense of optimism going into next week's big match.

Ireland: Keenan; Conway; Ringrose, Aki; Lowe; Sexton (capt), Gibson Park; Porter, Kelleher, Furlong; Beirne, Ryan; Doris, van der Flier, Conan.

Replacements: Sheehan, Healy, Bealham, Henderson, O'Mahony, Murray, Carbery, Earls.

Japan: Matushima; Riley; Lafaele, Nakamura; Fifita; Tamura, Nagare; Inagaki, Sakate, Koo; Cornelsen, Moore; Gunter, Labuschagne (capt), Himeno.

Replacements: Niwai, Millar, Valu, Tokunaga, Tatafu, Saito, Matsude, Yamanaka.


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