Inspirational captain Rory Best leads Ireland to huge win over Scotland in Rugby World Cup opener
Ireland 27-3 Scotland
Having spoken this week, and indeed long before, about hitting the ground running at this World Cup, Ireland came out of the blocks at a sprint, beginning their tournament in near perfect fashion with the only concern the number of injuries shipped with only six days to go before taking on Japan.
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Rory Best's try was the highlight for Ulster onlookers of a first-half obliteration that set up a bonus-point 27-3 win.
The success will have had Joe Schmidt thankful for the work of his defence and forwards coaches Andy Farrell and Simon Easterby and ensured they seized control of Pool A. From here, they will expect to avoid the back-to-back champions All Blacks in the last eight, instead likely to face South Africa, who lost to New Zealand on Saturday.
The Irish pack had been touted as an area of advantage over their Six Nations rivals prior to kick-off and they were in vintage form in the early going, providing both the platform and the finishing touch to three tries inside the opening 25 minutes.
A rampaging Iain Henderson set up the first, his lengthy gallop into the open space rewarded when second-row partner James Ryan muscled over a few phases later.
Next it was the turn of the line-out, Best opting for the corner from a penalty and ensuring he got the result he wanted by stretching over himself from the maul. The set-piece allowed for the third score too, a five metre scrum won by the industrious Andrew Conway preceding Tadhg Furlong's close range smash.
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Three tries from no more than a few metres combined and the tight five taking all the plaudits.
Amid the celebrations, there was concern, however. Bundee Aki failing an HIA, Peter O'Mahony being subbed off early and Johnny Sexton relinquishing kicking duties thanks to what appeared to be a tweaked groin.
With Scotland having the memory of their incredible comeback against England in the last Six Nations to draw upon, the game was far from over and as the rain began to hammer down, it felt important that Ireland maintained momentum into the second-half.
Crucially they got the next score, the slippery conditions seeing Scotland cough up a succession of Scotland box kicks, Ryan Wilson's spill seeing Andrew Conway pounce and bag a deserved try as well as the bonus-point.
With that, a satisfied Schmidt was able to call Sexton, Murray and the superb Henderson ashore.
A Jack Carty penalty was the only scoring that followed, even though Ireland finished the game with 14 men thanks to a late yellow card for Tadhg Beirne.
Job done and onto Japan, albeit with an ever-growing injury list.
Ireland: J Larmour; A Conway, G Ringrose, B Aki, J Stockdale; J Sexton, C Murray; C Healy, R Best (capt), T Furlong, I Henderson, J Ryan, P O'Mahony, J Van der Flier, CJ Stander.
Replacements: J Conan (for van der Flier, 13-20, for O'Mahony, 27) C Farrell (for Aki, 20) A Porter (for Furlong, 50), D Kilcoyne (for Healy, 50), J Carty (for Sexton, 56) T Beirne (for Henderson, 57) L McGrath (for C Murray, 57), N Scannell (for J van der Flier, 73)
Scotland: S Hogg; T Seymour, D Taylor, S Johnson, S Maitland; F Russell, G Laidlaw; A Dell, S McInally (capt), WP Nel, G Gilchrist, J Gray, J Barclay, H Watson, R Wilson.
Replacements: F Brown (for Watson, 37), S Berghan (for Nel,52) B Thomson (for Barclay, 52), D Graham (for Seymour, 57) A Price (for Laidlaw, 61), G Reid (for Dell, 61) S Cummings (for Gray, 64) C Harris (for Taylor, 64).
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