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Jacob Stockdale’s rise continues: Four talking points from Ireland’s win over Japan


Jacob Stockdale is now joint sixth on Ireland's list of all-time top try scorers. Pic: INPHO/Gary Carr

Jacob Stockdale is now joint sixth on Ireland's list of all-time top try scorers. Pic: INPHO/Gary Carr

©INPHO/Gary Carr

Jacob Stockdale is now joint sixth on Ireland's list of all-time top try scorers. Pic: INPHO/Gary Carr

Ireland finally got their own back on Japan for that infamous defeat at the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

But what were the takeaways from the game?

Here’s a quick run through four of them...

Rough start

With cross-continent international rugby making its tentative return after Covid-19 ravaged the schedules last year, there was plenty of curiosity regarding how some of the more idle southern hemisphere sides would pitch up. While Japan had only their hit-outs against the Sunwolves and British and Irish Lions behind them since the 2019 World Cup, it was Ireland who looked the more rusty outfit in the early stages at the Aviva Stadium. Obviously something of a thrown together side under the circumstances, Andy Farrell's men had real issues with their restarts and discipline in the opening exchanges. Those problems were fixed on the fly but the enduring difficulties at the line-out where they lost three key throws and in defence still left the impression of a disjointed performance.


Ireland need no reminders of the danger posed by the Brave Blossoms of course so the primary objective was always to win the Test match. That much was evident in Farrell's team selection as he held back the bevy of impressive, but uncapped, youngsters who have been in camp this past fortnight. So while Japan, with the inventive play of out-half Yu Tamura to the fore, gave their hosts a real scare with their usual joyous brand of rugby, the second-half performance saw Ireland take control of the contest.

With Josh van der Flier picking up the man of the match award, his rivals for the accolade were his back-row colleagues with Caelen Doris showing up well on his return to the side and Peter O'Mahony also giving a good account of himself. Among the backs, Ulster's Stuart McCloksey will have enjoyed marking his day in midfield with a try while Hugo Keenan continues to strengthen his hold over the Irish '15' jersey despite one rare slip in the build up to a fine Japanese score.

Jacob Stockdale

And McCloskey wasn't the only Ulsterman crossing the whitewash. Jacob Stockdale endured a frustrating international season thanks to injury back in January that hampered his Six Nations but was back on the scoresheet here, finishing well after Jamison Gibson-Park whipped the ball accurately out to his wing. The 25-year-old's 19th Test try in just 35 outings, it was a score that moved him level with Girvan Dempsey in sixth place on Ireland's all-time try scoring chart - every other player in the top ten won at least 50 caps. While it was his third try in his last six Ireland games, interestingly it was his first in the Aviva Stadium since THAT score against the All Blacks in 2018.


There was definitely a sense of disappointment in some circles that we didn't see more of Ireland's next wave in this game and that won't have been diluted by how things transpired here. Gavin Coombes, the only debutant, arrived late onto the scene but still some time before Craig Casey. The young Munster scrum-half got only about 90 seconds off the bench, perhaps due to relatively early injuries to Jordan Larmour and Chris Farrell ensuring he was the last back left on the bench for much of the second-half. One man who did make plenty of impact as a replacement was lock Ryan Baird. While there is naturally still plenty for him to learn at this level, his rare athletic gifts ensure he rarely fails to catch the eye and it was no different here.

With the USA up next on Saturday night - a side ranked 16th in the world and against whom Ireland have averaged almost 42 points in ten previous meetings - hopefully there will be more room for a few more new faces and perhaps some new ideas too.

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