Ireland eased their way past Fiji 41-6 at the Royal Dublin Showground on Saturday, running in five tries with Jonathan Sexton converting all of them.
Ireland eased their way past Fiji 41-6 at the Royal Dublin Showground on Saturday, running in five tries with Jonathan Sexton converting all of them in what was a sublime kicking display from the Irish debutant.
Centre Keith Earls bagged a double as the Six Nations warmed up for next weekend's big Test against South Africa in style.
The hosts only led 13-3 at the break but a try from Brian O'Driscoll five minutes into the second period sparked a glut of points for Declan Kidney's side.
Earls, full-back Rob Kearney and Shane Horgan added further scores after the break while Sexton's 100 per cent record with the boot earned him a personal 16-point haul.
Fiji fly-half Nicky Little scored his side's only points with a penalty either side of the break.
Sexton, making his debut at fly-half, put Ireland 3-0 ahead with a penalty after eight minutes as both sides took time to get to grips with the conditions.
A perfectly judged cross-kick from Sexton then almost brought about the first try. Earls gathered the loose ball and fed Kearney but he was stopped just short of the line.
Ireland did not have to wait long for a try however, Earls going over beside the posts after taking Eoin Reddan's pass following a scrum. Sexton's conversion put Ireland 10-0 clear.
Eventually Fiji began to secure some better possession, allowing Little to reduce the deficit to 10-3 with a well-struck penalty.
The visitors did well to hang in as Ireland were giving them increasing problems in the scrums, but the home team failed to take advantage and were then forced to defend close to their own line.
Fortunately, another big scrum which saw them push Fiji off their own ball relieved the pressure. It was only then that Ireland really began to open up.
Once again Sexton was involved, breaking out from his own half, but the move finished with Gordon D'Arcy's pass being intercepted by Fiji full-back Norman Ligairi.
But the pressure told just before half-time with Sexton landing his second penalty to leave Ireland 13-3 clear at the interval.
To add to Ireland's problems, flanker Denis Leamy had to be stretchered off with an injury to his right leg. Leinster tyro Sean O'Brien came on to make his debut at this level.
Fiji then conceded a frustrating try as Little saw O'Driscoll intercept his pass and run 40 metres to score with Sexton's conversion giving Ireland a 20-6 advantage and some breathing space.
With Tomas O'Leary on as a replacement at scrum-half for Reddan and Tony Buckley taking over from John Hayes in the front row, Ireland looked for more scores as the game went into the final quarter and the crowd was soon rewarded with a third try.
A well-worked move – the ball travelled smoothly along from O'Leary, O'Driscoll and D'Arcy – was finished off in the left corner by Earls.
Sexton kicked the difficult conversion, leaving Ireland 27-6 clear and in complete control.
Kearney, who did well to get the ball down under pressure from Mosese Rauluni, and Horgan, whose workmanlike performance deserved a try, added further touchdowns with the accurate Sexton landing both conversions from the touchline.
The second half against Fiji certainly saw Ireland find an extra gear or two in attack and Kidney and company will have some welcome selection headaches to work through before announcing the team to face the Springboks.
Man of the match: Keith Earls crossed for two tries but fly-half Jonny Sexton claims this man of the match honour with an accomplished display on his way to a personal tally of 16 points.
Moment of the match: Without taking anything away from Ireland's four try-scorers, it was the conversions that really caught the eye. Sexton's three goals from the touchline were pure class, and really brought some sunshine to the rain-soaked crowd.
Villain of the match: The rain. Had it been clear skies, we're pretty sure both sides could have contributed a few more tries.
Tries: Earls 2, Horgan, Kearney, O'Driscoll
Cons: Sexton 5
Pens: Sexton 2
Pens: Little 2
Ireland: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Shane Horgan, 13 Brian O'Driscoll (c), 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Keith Earls, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Denis Leamy, 6 Stephen Ferris, 5 Paul O'Connell, 4 Leo Cullen, 3 John Hayes, 2 Jerry Flannery, 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Tony Buckley, 18 Donncha O'Callaghan, 19 Sean O'Brien, 20 Tomas O'Leary, 21 Paddy Wallace, 22 Andrew Trimble.
Fiji: 15 Norman Ligairi, 14 Vereniki Goneva, 13 Gabiriele Lovobalavu, 12 Seremaia Bai (c), 11 Nasoni Roko, 10 Nicky Little, 9 Mosese Rauluni, 8 Asaeli Boko, 7 Akapusi Qera, 6 Apolosi Satala; 5 Ifereimi Rawaqa, 4 Wame Lewaravu, 3 Viliame Seuseu, 2 Viliame Veikoso, 1 Asaike Tarogi.
Replacements: 16 Isireli Ledua, 17 Graham Dewes, 18 Leone Nakarawa, 19 Samu Bola, 20 Waisale Vatuvoka, 21 Josh Matavesi, 22 Timoci Nagusa
Referee: Marius Jonker (South