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Ireland cut loose to make the most of no-win scenario

On one of those so-called 'no-win' situations, Ireland managed to emerge with a victory and a clean bill of health and there's a lot to be said for both.

Joe Schmidt got to cast his eye over the next layer of talent while resting most of his big guns for Saturday's mammoth task against Australia and saw the second string posed problems by a big, game Georgian side whose limitations were exposed when they ran out of gas.

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Craig Gilroy, Ireland, breaks through the Georgia defence

Craig Gilroy, Ireland, breaks through the Georgia defence

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Simon Zebo, Ireland, is tackled by David Kacharava, Georgia

Simon Zebo, Ireland, is tackled by David Kacharava, Georgia

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Felix Jones, Ireland, dives in to score his side's fourth try of the game despite the efforts of David Kacharava, Georgia

Felix Jones, Ireland, dives in to score his side's fourth try of the game despite the efforts of David Kacharava, Georgia

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Ireland's Dave Foley gets the ball to team-mate Tommy O'Donnell

Ireland's Dave Foley gets the ball to team-mate Tommy O'Donnell

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Stuart Olding, Ireland, touches down to score his side's sixth try of the game

Stuart Olding, Ireland, touches down to score his side's sixth try of the game

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Devin Toner, Ireland, in action against Giorgi Chkhaidze, Georgia

Devin Toner, Ireland, in action against Giorgi Chkhaidze, Georgia

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Rodney Ah You, Ireland

Rodney Ah You, Ireland

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Darren Cave, Ireland, is tackled by Merab Sharikadze, Georgia

Darren Cave, Ireland, is tackled by Merab Sharikadze, Georgia

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Felix Jones had a display of courageous fielding and inventive running

Felix Jones had a display of courageous fielding and inventive running

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Ian Madigan impressed Joe Schmidt yesterday

Ian Madigan impressed Joe Schmidt yesterday

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Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt ahead of the game

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt ahead of the game

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Craig Gilroy, Ireland, breaks through the Georgia defence

It was one of those afternoons for which the word facile was invented, but the coach saw merit in the exercise and some performances.

"Absolutely. I think you've got to give credit where credit is due. The players worked hard. They suffocated a very physical opponent," he said

"They kept their structure and kept pressure on that opponent. And they got reward for it. If players roll their sleeves up and they do that, then I think they deserve to be looked at. That's a responsibility of the coaching staff to make sure we go through that.

"And that process will contribute to what we decide to go with next week. "

Ireland huffed and puffed for 40 minutes but the hard work paid off after half-time as they went from 0 to six tries in 40 minutes.

Discipline

They were helped by their opponents' poor discipline at the ruck and a stroke of bad luck to boot. For the majority of the second half they played with an extra man and for eight long minutes it was 15 on 13 and the full-time professionals did their damage.

It was a good day's work for Felix Jones who grabbed two tries, while Richardt Strauss made a real play for a starting berth next Saturday.

Dave Foley earned the man of the match award on his debut and, far more importantly, high praise from his coach, while Dominic Ryan and Robin Copeland also did well as they earned their first caps.

There were others who struggled, with the front-row creaking under their weight of the formidable Georgian scrum and Ulster pair Robbie Diack and Darren Cave making poor errors.

The wavering scrum almost saw Ireland slip behind as Merab Kvirikashvili pulled a sixth-minute penalty wide after Mike Ross slipped his bind, but the excellent Ian Madigan put his side in front soon after as the tale of visiting indiscipline at the rucks began to unfold.

Georgia were relishing this rare shot at tier-one opposition and their intensity crossed the line into foul play on more than one occasion.

It was an old-fashioned test for the tight five and the new-look back-row and at times they struggled to give the backline quality ball.

When they did get opportunities, the much-changed combinations couldn't quite put the moves together. Gordon D'Arcy was undone by a floated Ryan pass, Tommy O'Donnell suffered some white-line fever and spilled in the act of scoring and Cave didn't have the pace to latch on to his own chip ahead.

Madigan added a second penalty into the mix and, as the penalty count ticked towards critical mass, Ireland's pack looked to turn the screw with their maul without ever getting over the line.

Georgia were almost out of the woods with the game at 6-0 and the clock turning red, but they messed up their own lineout and scrum-half Giorgi Begadze conceded the one penalty too many and JP Doyle reached for his card as Madigan extended the lead to nine.

Whatever about coping with a full complement before half-time, the tiring Georgians were goosed with a man down and Dave Kilcoyne punished after another driving maul was held up short.

Diack could have put Reddan over for a try to cap his night as skipper but held on too long, but Strauss got over as Begadze returned in similar circumstances to Kilcoyne.

Restored to a full team, the Georgians got a try to reward their efforts when Ireland's fringe defence went missing, allowing Begadze to expose Foley and Ryan and put second-row Giorgi Nemsadze over.

Their moment was short-lived as No 8 Dimitri Basilaia kicked the ball while prone on the ground and was sent to the bin. Ireland called the scrum, Cave picked Reddan's pass off his laces and Madigan sent Simon Zebo over.

Replacement fly-half Lasha Malaguradze was injured in the interim and, with the Georgian bench empty, they were down to 13 men. Coach Milton Haig later said the serious looking injury was not as bad as first feared.

From there, Ireland plundered the outnumbered visitors and Felix Jones filled his boots with a brace before Stuart Olding capped his second cap with a well-worked try off an Ian Keatley pass.

It was far from perfect, but the coach was pleased with what he had seen from a scratch team.

"The endeavour in first half, that's where we reaped the second-half reward. It allowed us to keep pressure on and that valve was set to burst at some stage and we certainly hoped it was," Schmidt said.

Haunt

"I was pretty pleased with the first-half performance. It would have been nice to have finished off the opportunities close to the line. Against the big teams, we saw last weekend that can come back and haunt you a bit at the end of the game.

"We manufactured the opportunities, kept the pressure on them and that forced them to sometimes make a number of errors around the work. There were seven or eight ruck penalties in the first half and that starts to accumulate in the sense that they will pick up a more serious sanction and that will allow us a little bit more opportunity.

"I think the scrum will take another step next week. That is part of the progress that you would anticipate.

"In general play, a little bit of the pass accuracy wasn't bang on. I thought there was a nice wide pass from Dominic Ryan off his left hand that went 25 metres across the field and was just a little bit high and stopped Gordon D'Arcy or I think Gordon gets in in the corner - those are the fine margins that you've got to nail against a team that are as a good as Australia are."

The real business begins at Carton House today where the squad gather to continue their preparation for the Wallabies with most of the starters well-rested after their afternoon off. A worthwhile hit-out is followed by a return to Test match intensity, a chance at a rare November clean sweep and a fitting end to a fine 2014.

IRELAND - F Jones; C Gilroy, D Cave, G D'Arcy (I Keatley 63), S Zebo (S Olding 63); I Madigan, E Reddan (capt) (K Marmion 63); D Kilcoyne, R Strauss (S Cronin 63), M Ross (R Ah You 47); D Foley (D Toner 63), M McCarthy (R Copeland 63); D Ryan, T O'Donnell, R Diack.

GEORGIA - M Kvirikashvili; A Todua, D Kachavara (capt), M Sharikadze, T Mchedlidze (M Giorgadze 55); L Khmaladze (L Malaguradze 55), G Begadze (V Khutsishvili 57); M Nariashvili (S Maisuradze 52), S Mamukashvili (Z Zhvania 52), D Kubriashvili (L Chilachava 52); K Mikautadze (L Datunashvili 50), G Nemsadze; G Tkhilaishvili, V Kolelishvili (G Chkhaidze 57), D Basilaia.

ref - JP Doyle (RFU)

Game at a glance

Man of the Match

Ian Madigan (Ireland)

Stepped back into the Ireland No 10 shirt seamlessly with a fine display of control, a good kicking game and a scything break. Dave Foley was given the official gong on a fine debut, but the Leinster man showed his class.

Turning Point

The game went according to script, but the moment the Georgian's resistance came was on the stroke of half-time when their scrum-half Giorgi Begadze saw yellow and Madigan made it 9-0. By the time he returned, Ireland were out of sight.

Talking Point

How deep is Schmidt's squad? There are areas, such as the back three and back-row, where the Ireland coach has options, but there are still doubts about the cover in the centre and front-row.

Magic Moment

Georgia's was a thankless enough task yesterday, particularly when they were down to 14 men, so when the hard-working Giorgi Nemsadze popped up on Begadze's shoulder to score it was a reward for their efforts.

Ref Watch

JP Doyle was in a strange position having grown up down the road and largely did a decent job. His TMO could have helped him out when Dominic Ryan complained of getting a Georgian boot in the eye area.

What they said:

Eoin Reddan (Ireland captain):

"So I think in the end we knew that if we stuck to our game plan and stayed disciplined in how we approached the game, our fitness might tell at some stage and I think it did in the end."

Milton Haig (Georgia coach):

"Obviously, second half playing most of it with 14 men, you cannot do it. We got taught a couple of lessons. You've got to be better at other aspects of the game than just the scrum."

Body Count

No fresh injuries to report, while Joe Schmidt is not ruling Jared Payne out of next Saturday's game.

What's Next?

Ireland face Australia for a November clean sweep next Saturday, while Georgia face Japan.

Attendance: 40,026

Player ratings

Felix Jones 7

Took his tries well and was so secure under the high ball early on that the Georgians stopped kicking the ball to him. Finished on the left wing and likely to be on the bench next week.

Craig Gilroy 6

Won't thank Darren Cave for the high pass he knocked on, but put in an industrious display on his return to international rugby without ever breaking free. Never really tested in defence.

Darren Cave 5

A mixed afternoon for the Ulster centre who was parachuted into the team from outside the squad. He made some nice off-loads and ran good lines but made some basic errors and poor decisions.

Gordon D'Arcy 6

Didn't quite have the pace required to get over for a first-half try, but dealt with everything Georgia threw his way defensively while fighting for yards in attack as he played his way back to fitness.

Simon Zebo 7

We know he can finish off moves and make breaks, but it's the little details that will enhance Zebo's game. One superb first-half cleanout in particular showed improvement.

Ian Madigan 8

Ireland's outstanding performer mixed a clever kicking game with an eye for a break on his first start in two years. Kicked 19 points and cut an assured figure throughout.

Eoin Reddan 7

A proud day as he led his country for the first time and a fine performance to match. Kept the tempo high, fed his backline good ball and made good decisions before being put on ice for next week.

Dave Kilcoyne 6

Struggled at scrum-time against a seasoned operator, but made up for it at times in the loose with a big display and a first international try. Went the full 80 which is unusual.

Richardt Strauss 7

Impressive display from one of those really pushing for a start against Australia. Lineout ran well, carried hard and scored a fine try in a hard-working hour.

Mike Ross 5

JP Doyle pointed the finger at the tighthead for a couple of scrum penalties and, while he'll be all the better for the 47 minutes under his belt, will have to improve against Australia.

Dave Foley 7

Drew high praise from his coach for running the lineout on his debut and the Munster second-row had an excellent outing on his first-cap. Found himself outnumbered for the Georgian try.

Mike McCarthy 6

Another quiet outing in the loose even if Ireland would have expected a power-packed shift in the engine room from their second-row who is under pressure for his spot on the bench.

Dominic Ryan 6

A strong debut from the Leinsterman who made a couple of big tackles in the opening stages and ran well. Hit plenty of rucks but the Georgians proved frustrating opponents.

Tommy O'Donnell 6

A little more composure and he'd have been celebrating a try. But the openside still put in a hard-working performance, finishing joint-top-tackler with Ryan.

Robbie Diack 5

Poor display from the South African who looked uncomfortable in the No 8 shirt. Loose in possession, quiet in the loose, he butchered a two-on-one early in the second-half.

Replacements

Schmidt finished with a makeshift backline and back-five. Rodney Ah You (6) carried well after initial errors, Sean Cronin (7) carried hard and Robin Copeland's (7) turnover led to a try. Stuart Olding (7) scored one and made another, while Ian Keatley (7) was good on his return.

Joe Schmidt 7

Having his team sitting third in the world rankings after the end of a weekend where he got to rest most of his first team ahead of the visit of Australia represents a decent day out as the focus turns to the big one.

Schmidt will have learnt a lot about fringe players while extending his side's winning run to six on the bounce.

Some of Ireland's backline play was stunted at times, but that was no surprise given the lack of preparation time.

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