Sunday 25 March 2018

Ireland hit ground running in summer tour with emphatic USA win

Ireland made a blistering start to their summer tour with an emphatic 55-19 victory over the US Eagles at Red Bull Arena in New Jersey.

Tries from Keith Earls (2), Jacob Stockdale, Niall Scannell, Kieran Marmion, Jack Conan, debutant James Ryan, Luke McGrath and Simon Zebo did the damage with fly-half Joey Carbery adding four points from the boot. Garry Ringrose added a solitary conversion with Rory Scannell, on his Test debut, kicking four points.

The outclassed Eagles replied with tries from Nic Civetta, John Quill and Ryan Matyas with former Connacht fly-half AJ MacGinty contributing four points from the kicking tee.

Joe Schmidt's side had too much pace, power and precision for the Eagles, who are ranked 13 places below fourth-placed Ireland in the World Rankings.

That gap in class was blatantly apparent throughout a frantic first half with the visitors bagging five tries to establish a 29-7 half-time lead.

Ireland added a further four tries after the break to seal a comfortable victory before they set off to Tokyo on Sunday ahead of their two-Test series with 2019 World Cup pool opponents Japan.

It took Ireland just 155 seconds to break the deadlock in sun-drenched New Jersey. Marshall and Jack Conan set the platform with strong carries before Carbery released Tiernan O'Halloran who sent Earls racing down the right wing for the opening try. The young fly-half hooked the touchline conversion, but this was an ominous start.

Ireland dissected the home side with ease again in the 14th minute. Ringrose carried it up in midfield before Carbery's inside pass freed Earls who sent a lovely looping pass to Stockdale who crossed for a try on his Test debut.

Ringrose, stepping in to take kicking duties for Carbery, fired over the touchline effort as Ireland raced into a 12-0 lead.

Under the cosh throughout the opening quarter, the Eagles were haned a gift. Lock Civetta blocking down Carbery's chip in Ireland's 22 before pouncing for a much-needed score. MacGinty added the conversion to trim Ireland's lead to 10 points.

Ireland went back to basics for try number four with hooker Niall Scannell squeezing over from a surging lineout maul. Carbery missed his third consecutive conversion as his effort rattled the post.

Earls, the elder statesman of the backs, was soon racing clear again and fed Marmion who jinked his way over for his side's fifth try. Carbery finally got his skates on and nailed a conversion to make it 29-7 heading into the half-time break.

Ireland's maul was causing the Eagles all sorts or problems as No 8 Conan touched down after another lineout drive to open the scoring after the break.

Carbery gifted the Eagles another five-pointer in the 45th minute as flanker Quill charged down the Irish No 10's clearance to score his side's second try.

Already without Johnny Sexton and Paddy Jackson for this leg of the tour, Ireland lost Carbery to injury in the 50th minute with Rory Scannell shifting to fly-half, having replaced Ulster midfielder Marshall at half-time.

Schmidt replaced the entire frontrow soon after as Connacht hooker Dave Heffernan and Leinster tighthead Andrew Porter entered the fray to win their first caps alongside Munster loosehead Dave Kilcoyne.

Then came the best spell from the Eagles as centre Matyas crossed from close range. MacGinty added the conversion to make it 36-19.

Leinster lock James Ryan, on for his debut on the hour mark, then raced over for a try from another Earls' break less than 60 seconds after his arrival.

John Mitchell's men were beginning to feel the pace in the final quarter as substitute scrum-half McGrath and Zebo both crossed for a rampant Ireland to breach the 50-point mark.

Press Association

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