Russia were never going to make it easy for Ireland at Rugby World Cup, argues Conway
One step away from a third consecutive World Cup quarter-final, Andrew Conway gave short shrift to the idea that Ireland should have racked up a bigger score against Russia in Kobe yesterday.
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Joe Schmidt's men ran out comfortable 35-0 victors in their penultimate pool game but had to wait until the hour mark for Conway's score to ensure the required try-bonus.
Against the lowest ranked side in the competition, beaten by Jersey Reds and Connacht in pre-season and playing here for a quarter of the game with a man down thanks to two yellow cards, the performance was hardly free-flowing, featuring 18 handling errors.
"I tell you what, if a team rocks up and they're playing in a World Cup, it's a different story," said Conway of Russia's recent form.
"There's guys putting their heart and soul into everything. It's not a warm-up game here, it's a World Cup.
"Russia don't make life easy. They're a big team. They made life as tough as possible for us but we got there in the end."
While it was a much-changed team, Ireland were in action just five days after having their World Cup turned upside down by defeat to Japan, a result that, at present, has them travelling towards a quarter-final meeting with the back-to-back champion All Blacks.
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Win against Samoa with a bonus-point tomorrow week and they'll be guaranteed that spot in the last eight no matter what else happens in the pool.
"It's been a very tough week but we were lucky enough to go out and play five days later," added Conway.
"That's such a great feeling. It's not like losing the last game of a provincial season, where you've got a summer to dwell on it or the last game of a Test series at the end of the summer.
"We're into it next week, we've had our blip against Japan in week two and hopefully we'll take our learnings and we'll move on."
Ireland have played three games inside 12 days to start this tournament but it'll be eight more before they're in action again, that Samoa clash coming in Fukuoka next Saturday.
And while Conway will enjoy the two down days granted the squad over the weekend, he says the players are not feeling the physical toll.
"I was chatting to Garry (Ringrose) inside and he has played a good bit of rugby, but he is loving it," he said.
"We're at a World Cup here now and you want to be involved in every minute of the game, it's not about playing a game and then it's, 'Aw, are you going to rest us?'
"We're here to play, and to play in a World Cup is the biggest pinnacle in anyone's rugby career.
"We'll definitely need a couple of days off and, in fairness, the load has been spread, but Garry has probably played the most minutes out of everyone, but the load has been spread quite nicely.
"We'll recover and get stuck in for next weekend. We're at a World Cup here, we're not here to rest, we're here to be smart and recover and do the right things.
"But we're mad to play rugby."