Rory Best score helps Ireland to confidence-boosting seven-try win over Samoa to reach quarter-finals at Rugby World Cup
Ireland 47-5 Samoa
Even with 14 men, Ireland made the bonus-point win over Samoa look like child's play in Fukuoka.
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On a day when rugby very much took a back seat in Japan as Typhoon Hagibis had already claimed its first life before kick-off, Ireland beat the Pacific islanders 47-5, picking up their bonus point before the half-time whistle sounded.
Influential fly-half Johnny Sexton touched down twice, adding to Rory Best's early opener and Tadhg Furlong's try for a 21-5 lead at the midway point.
When man of the match Jordan Larmour deservedly went over eight minutes into the second period, it was game over and Ireland could rest their key men with the likes of Sexton, Best and Conor Murray withdrawn by the time CJ Stander and Andrew Furlong made it a seven-try success
The win means Ireland currently sit top of Pool A, where they will stay if Scotland manage to beat Japan and deny the tournament hosts two losing bonus points tomorrow. In reality, it is increasingly unlikely that game will go ahead, with the resulting draw enough to send Japan top and Ireland into a quarter-final tie against New Zealand next Saturday (11.15am).
Ireland had to do it all, for over 50 minutes, with 14 men as Bundee Aki was deservedly shown the red card for a high tackle on 29 minutes.
The game got off the perfect start when captain Rory Best touched down at the back of a driving maul, his second score in three games at the tournament.
Joe Schmidt's side were half-way to a bonus point by the ten minute mark, when Tadhg Furlong powered his way over for his own second try in Japan.
Sexton had Larmour to thank for his first score as Ireland eased into a 21-0 lead. The full-back made the break and nonchalantly flicked a one-handed pass inside to find the fly-half.
The Samoans soon enjoyed their best period of the game either side of Aki's red card. By the time the Connacht centre was sent off, the opponents were on the score-board as Jack Lam was pushed over the line by some eager support.
Then Aki was dismissed, with the referee finding no 'mitigating' dip from the tackler as he had done minutes earlier when Seilala Lam was given only a yellow for hitting Jacob Stockdale.
Ireland took a few minutes to compose themselves but hit back in perfect fashion, Sexton ghosting in on the stroke of half-time to secure the bonus-point and a 26-5 lead.
Larmour got the fifth when he seized on a perfect Conor Murray ball out to the wing.
Despite their changes, Ireland continued to push and scored their sixth and seventh tries in quick succession, CJ Stander going over followed by Andrew Conway's third of the World Cup.
Considering that it took Scotland 75 minutes to finally secure the bonus point against Samoa and Japan even later, this was a much-need confidence-booster for Ireland ahead of next weekend's quarter-final.
Now attention turns to the decision over Japan against Scotland and who Ireland will face in the last eight.
Here's the game as it happened:
Belfast Telegraph Digital