'That's more like us': Rory Best salutes 'effective' Ireland performance in World Cup win over Samoa
Ireland will go into a World Cup quarter-final next weekend off the back of a seven-try success over Samoa.
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According to captain Rory Best, they'll also go into a last eight tie against South Africa or, more likely, New Zealand, having somewhat rediscovered their identity.
It was a Pool A campaign that was injected with initial optimism through the opening 27-3 win over Scotland but, when the Shock in Shizuoka, a 19-12 win for hosts Japan, followed, Ireland's World Cup balloon quickly burst.
A 35-0 win over Russia was a small step in the right direction and Saturday's 47-5 win over a Samoa side, which had made both Japan and the Scots work much harder for the bonus point, was much more encouraging.
"We never really doubted ourselves," said Best, assessing the pool campaign. "We looked back at the loss and we knew we let ourselves down.
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"We didn't do a lot of the things we pride ourselves on and I think this is a lot more like us. We'll be happy with that but we'll look back and see how we have to improve going into the semi-finals.
"After the Japan game, we knew 10 points would get us through and we've got that. The lads rolled up their sleeves. We know how good Samoa are and that they would come with no pressure.
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"We stood up. It was time for us to roll our sleeves up. It maybe wasn't that pretty but we were very effective.
"The Japan game was the only World Cup game I've played in when we've felt like the away team. It's incredibly special. People have come to Japan to follow us and it's fantastic. Everywhere you look, there are green jerseys."
Ireland, of course, played over 50 minutes, and scored 26 unanswered points, with 14 men on Saturday after Bundee Aki's red card.
"We had to leave defensive rucks alone and make sure we had numbers on feet," said Best of playing a man down. "We've overcome red cards before. it's never ideal but I think it shows a lot of character of the squad when you go a man down, how you adapt to that. There was no panic and we continued to attack them.
"We share a lot of the leadership. We have some very smart players, some older, some younger. It's a really nice squad and we've built over the last two games. We started the tournament well and the big thing is we never panicked. The most pressure we feel is what we put on ourselves.
"We're into a quarter-final and whatever happens tomorrow happens."
While Aki's dismissal will likely mean a quarter-final start for Garry Ringrose, Joe Schmidt will have a decision to make at full-back with Jordan Larmour picking up the man of the match award as he deputised for Rob Kearney.
"The conditions certainly were tough out there and Samoa brought the game to us," the Leinster man said. "We could have taken a few more opportunities but we're happy with the performance. Now it's about growing as a team in the tournament.
"The forwards were giving us gain-line, getting forward momentum and it's easy to play off the back of that. Credit to the forwards, they really did a good job."
Belfast Telegraph Digital