Sunday 26 February 2017

Facile Irish win the only outcome at Aviva

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Peter O’Mahony is applauded by his team-mates as he makes his way on to the pitch for the team photograph prior to the Captain’s Run at the Aviva Stadium yesterday. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Peter O’Mahony is applauded by his team-mates as he makes his way on to the pitch for the team photograph prior to the Captain’s Run at the Aviva Stadium yesterday. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

For the eight new faces it is a day to remember, for the 50,000-plus it is about wallowing in last week's success and for the few players with a realistic chance of featuring against the All Blacks at the same venue next week, tonight's clash with Canada is an opportunity to catch Joe Schmidt's eye.

The coach knows his side are going to win this Test match against a Canadian team who are determined to try and put in a performance that will book them more dates against Tier One opposition, but their injury list makes their task an impossible one.

Tier Two sides need their biggest names more than anyone and with influential forwards Tyler Ardron and Jamie Cudmore among their absentees, they are likely to come up short.

The two sides met in the opening game of last year's World Cup and Ireland ran out easy winners, but there are plenty of changes from that day as both coaches begin to look towards 2019.

For former Ulster coach Mark Anscombe, there will be personal motivations but after just three games in charge he is only getting to know his players and will look for a committed performance.

Although there are eight new faces in Ireland's match-day squad, the pack has a gnarled look with four of last week's replacements included along with Seán O'Brien and Peter O'Mahony. Jack O'Donoghue and Billy Holland make their debuts, but the second-row is 31 and brings with him plenty of experience. Canada, meanwhile, are largely a collection of Sevens internationals, second-tier European operators and domestic-based players with three top division-based players.

"What success is for us is being able to execute what we can do," Anscombe said.

"We've got to believe in ourselves. There will be 50,000 people here and perhaps not one of them will believe we can win.

"So we've got to believe it, and if we don't we won't do ourselves justice. Success is playing to our ability and doing the fundamentals that we've worked on well. If we can do that we can push them close."

Behind the strong Ireland pack is an exciting back-line that sees Garry Ringrose make his bow.

The Leinster starlet is perhaps the most exciting inclusion in a fascinating match-day 23 and the beginning of his Test career could be the most memorable element of a facile win.

Verdict: Ireland

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