Ireland further strengthened their chances of topping Pool C after claiming a nine-try 62-12 victory over Russia in Rotorua on Sunday.
Ireland strengthened their chances of topping Pool C after claiming a nine-try 62-12 win over Russia at Rotorua International Stadium on Sunday.
With only six players backing up from the 15-6 upset of Australia at Eden Park last weekend, they still maintained their three-point lead over the Wallabies in Pool C heading into the final games.
A mass of green among the 25,661 capacity at the Rotorua venue generated a homely feel for for Ireland. And they steamed to a 43-0 lead eight minutes after half-time before taking off their key men and giving Russia the chance to get on the scoreboard with two late tries.
The Irish will lock up Pool C with victory over Six Nations rivals Italy in Dunedin next Sunday, with the Italians to first play the USA on Tuesday.
Fly-half Ronan O'Gara, the official man-of-the-match in his 115th Test, extended his Irish scoring record to 1,054 points with 15 points from six conversions and a penalty before he was replaced with 15 minutes remaining.
The Irish put the Russian defence to the test early with 14 phases on their try-line before they lost fly-half Konstantin Rachkov to the sin-bin for a deliberate knock down.
In the time Rachkov was off the field Ireland cashed in with two converted tries to Fergus McFadden off an O'Gara kick and outstanding openside flanker Sean O'Brien.
O'Gara was at the heart of the Irish attacks and his goal-kicking and general kicking was immaculate.
But when Rashov returned late in the first quarter the Irish scoring slowed and it took them until late in the half to rush on three tries in as many minutes.
New Zealand-born scrum-half Isaac Boss dived over and planted the ball next to the post and centre Keith Earls finished off a break from winger Andrew Trimble.
The Irish finished the half in storming fashion when Trimble toed through off Andrey Garbuzov's error to score for an emphatic 36-0 lead at the break. O'Gara's sideline conversion attempt struck an upright costing him an unblemished kicking performance.
Earls sliced through for his second try eight minutes after the break and was taken straight off along with prop Cian Healy as Ireland looked ahead to their next big match with Italy.
Russia had their best moment in the match when full-back Vasily Artemyev scored a classy try, slicing through and then standing up Rob Kearney to score in the 51st minute.
The Russians had another 'victory' when winger Denis Simplikevich brushed off McFadden and Trimble to score the Bears' second try on the hour. But Ireland powered on with the replacements' bench cleared and they added three more tries to Kearney, Shane Jennings and Tony Buckley.
Man of the match: We have mentioned him time and time again but flanker Sean O'Brien continues to impress. He was a tower of strength for the Irish and deserved his first-half try.
Moment of the match: Russia scoring their second try through wing Denis Simplikevich. It was a fine score that led to big celebrations, despite the result already being beyond doubt.
Villain of the match: Letting his side down by putting himself in the sin-bin for a deliberate knock-down was not the wisest thing Konstantin Rachkov will ever do. It cost his team.
Tries: McFadden, O'Brien, Boss, Earls 2, Trimble, Kearney, Jennings, Buckley
Con: O'Gara 6, Sexton
Try: Artemyev, Simplikevich
Ireland: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Keith Earls, 12 Paddy Wallace, 11 Andrew Trimble, 10 Ronan O'Gara, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Sean O'Brien, 6 Donnacha Ryan, 5 Leo Cullen (c), 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 Tony Buckley, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Rory Best, 17 Mike Ross, 18 Denis Leamy, 19 Shane Jennings, 20 Eoin Reddan, 21 Jonathan Sexton, 22 Geordan Murphy.
Russia: 15 Vasily Artemyev, 14 Denis Simplikevich, 13 Andrey Kuzin, 12 Sergey Trishin, 11 Vladimir Ostroushko, 10 Konstantin Rachkov, 9 Alexander Yanyushkin (c), 8 Victor Gresev, 7 Andrey Garbuzov, 6 Artem Fatakhov, 5 Adam Byrnes, 4 Denis Antonov, 3 Alexander Khrokin, 2 Valery Tsnobiladze, 1 Sergey Popov.
Replacements: 16 Evgeny Matveev, 17 Ivan Prishchepenko, 18 Alexey Travkin, 19 Alexander Voytov, 20 Andrey Bykanov, 21 Mikhail Sidorov, 22 Mikhail Babaev.
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Dave Pearson (England), JÃ©rÃ´me Garces (France)
Television match official: Giulio De Santis (Italy)