Ireland enhance Rugby World Cup credentials as they knock out Scotland

Planet Rugby
Ireland celebrate Hugo Keenan try against Scotland.

Ireland celebrate Hugo Keenan try against Scotland.

Ireland further enhanced their Rugby World Cup title credentials after they dominated Scotland in their final pool fixture, winning 36-14 on Saturday.

It was a ruthless performance from the top ranked team in global rugby as Ireland ran in four tries in the first period and two more after the interval.

James Lowe, Hugo Keenan (two), Iain Henderson, Dan Sheehan and Garry Ringrose crossed the whitewash while Johnny Sexton kicked six points.

Scotland were shell-shocked by that opening 40 minutes and only late scores from Ewan Ashman and Ali Price came as consolation as they bow out.

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Gregor Townsend’s men required a heroic win by eight points or more at Stade de France to snatch progression at the expense of their opponents.

But the Irish emphatically underlined their status with a thrilling display of attacking verve to avoid major drama in a feisty encounter.

Lowe’s early try settled any nerves before Keenan crossed either side of a score from the recalled Henderson to quickly take the game away from the shell-shocked Scots before the break.

Sheehan and Ringrose added to the embarrassment before Scottish pair Ashman and Price claimed quickfire consolations.

Ireland will take on the All Blacks in the last eight, seeking to avenge the 46-14 thrashing suffered at the same stage of the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

Head coach Andy Farrell perhaps has cause for concern ahead of that showdown due apparent injuries suffered by wings Mack Hansen and Lowe.

Scotland, meanwhile, face an early flight home for the second successive tournament, with South Africa going through as Pool B runners-up to take on hosts France.

Premature departures for Blair Kinghorn, Jamie Ritchie and Darcy Graham due to fitness issues contributed to their woes, while Ollie Smith was shown a yellow card for causing a mass brawl.

The Scots came into the competition with one of their most talented teams in years but, following a chastening evening in the French capital, were left to rue being placed in the most difficult group alongside the reigning champions and the world’s number one team.

Permutations, premature elimination and the slim possibility of the Springboks crashing out dominated the build-up to a titanic qualification shoot-out in Saint-Denis.

A deafening roar greeted the teams and the decibels were raised further among the dominant Irish support with just over a minute on the clock when Hansen sent Lowe over in the left corner after Ringrose dummied his way beyond Grant Gilchrist.

Scotland roared back and showed a statement of intent by kicking a series of penalties to the corner, forcing Ireland to ferociously repel prolonged pressure.

But their cause was not helped by losing full-back Kinghorn, whose 50th cap lasted just nine minutes, and captain Ritchie, while Ireland wing Hansen also went off.

Ireland’s defiant defending was matched equally by awesome attacking enterprise and they stretched the scoreboard significantly with two quickfire tries.

Delightful slick interplay from right to left unlocked the Scottish backline, culminating in Ringrose teeing up the onrushing Keenan in the 27th minute, before Henderson marked his first start of the tournament by bulldozing over minutes later.

Far from thinking about the knock-out stages, Scotland trudged down the tunnel at the break fearing humiliation.

Ireland’s well-oiled machine led 26-0 ahead at that stage with a bonus point in the bag after Sexton set up Keenan’s second and then sent over his third successful conversion.

Scotland desperately needed to show some fight and did so as tempers boiled over early in the second period during a melee sparked by Smith’s off-the-ball trip on Sexton.

Players from both sides piled in, with Pierre Schoeman and Sheehan ploughing over an advertising board, before instigator Smith was sin-binned.

Sheehan was on the floor again minutes later, this time diving over to claim Ireland’s fifth try before Farrell wisely withdrew talisman Sexton, in addition to five of his forwards.

Jack Crowley’s fine cross-field kick sent over Ringrose before Scottish resistance finally materialised in the shape of a pair of well-taken scores, each converted by the largely subdued Finn Russell.

Replacement hooker Ashman made an immediate impact by galloping over on the right to ensure his side were not whitewashed, before scrum-half Price finished a fine team move.

Yet their endeavours mattered little as Ireland comfortably marched on thanks to a 17th successive win and a ninth in a row against the eliminated Scots.

The teams

Ireland: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Mack Hansen, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 James Lowe, 10 Johnny Sexton (c), 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Caelan Doris, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Peter O’Mahony, 5 Iain Henderson, 4 Tadhg Beirne, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Dan Sheehan, 1 Andrew Porter
Replacements: 16 Ronan Kelleher, 17 David Kilcoyne, 18 Finlay Bealham, 19 James Ryan, 20 Jack Conan, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Jack Crowley, 23 Stuart McCloskey

Scotland: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Darcy Graham, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Sione Tuipulotu, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Ali Price, 8 Jack Dempsey, 7 Rory Darge, 6 Jamie Ritchie (c), 5 Grant Gilchrist, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 George Turner, 1 Pierre Schoeman
Replacements: 16 Ewan Ashman, 17 Rory Sutherland, 18 WP Nel, 19 Scott Cummings, 20 Matt Fagerson, 21 Luke Crosbie, 22 George Horne, 23 Ollie Smith

Referee: Nic Berry (Australia)
Assistant Referees: Wayne Barnes (England), Jordan Way (Australia)
TMO: Brett Cronan (Australia)

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