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22nd Sep 2019

Andrew Conway awareness for bonus point try shouldn’t be understated

Jeff Simon

Andrew Conway

Here it was! The World Cup officially began for Irish fans as Ireland took on Scotland in a heavyweight Pool A clash at Yokohama.

Victory for either side would’ve set them on a clean path to top the group and possibly avoid an unpleasant clash against the All Blacks in the knockouts.

In the hours before kickoff, Ireland coach Joe Schmidt in his swansong World Cup, pointed out that it’s not about being the best in the world but rather to be the best on the day; whatever you make of that statement, the Men in Green certainly put their best foot forward in this game:

Ireland 27-3 Scotland

History it seemed also favoured the Irish as they had lost only four times in 24 prior meetings against the Scots since the 1999 World Cup.

After the lovely blue sky weather that accompanied the previous two days, dark clouds gathered to spectate here as the two teams headed down the tunnel.

A frenetic start ensued as the game kicked off and just seven minutes into the game, Conor Murray fashioned a lovely opportunity to free Henderson who smashed past Scottish defenders only to get hurled down just a few metres from the post. Tense moments passed as Ireland kept it tight; and a few phases later James Ryan dragged his way across the line to score the first try of the match. Jonny Sexton added the extras as Scotland’s start hung gloomier than the storm clouds hovering over them.

15 minutes into the game and Ireland made quick work of just their second visit to the Scottish 22m line as Captain Rory Best worked brilliantly to squeal away and get the ball over the line. A picture of efficiency, power and ruthlessness from the Irish there.

The Scots would see their mettle put to the test as the Irish continued to grow into the game, winning battles all over the pitch.

22 minutes in and Scotland were handed a lifeline with a penalty as they finally had something to show for as Greig Laidlaw added three points to keep the score at 12-3.

Whatever joy Scotland clung to, it soon dissipated as Tadhg Furlong drew blood in another clinical display to extend their lead to 19-3 as Murray wrapped up the subsequent conversion.

Entering the final 10 minutes of the first half, Scotland just couldn’t make a mark on the game, constantly getting put in their places by the Men in Green with their brutal physicality.

34 minutes into the game and Scotland carried for two phases before attempting a sparkling play with their backs but Jacob Stockdale intervened with a masterly tackle to dismantle the attack. Scotland just couldn’t catch a break!

Four minutes later and Stockdale proceeded to turn on the style with a daring dash up the left, collecting his own chip kick and waltzing past Hogg into the 22 before a brilliant tackle by Sam Johnson halted his progress.

The half continued to spew bad news in Scotland’s face as Hamish Watson ended up on the grass writhing in agony with a supposed knee injury. Scotland’s WC hopes took a noticeable hit as he  exited the field to the applause of the gracious crowd.

The halftime gong temporarily abated Scotland’s misery as the teams headed down the tunnels with a sixteen point deficit between them. Ireland for their part would have been chuffed knowing they gave it their all, doing the simple things well and it showed on the scoreline with Joe Schmidt’s game plan working to a tee. Scotland by contrast were predictable in attack and lacking in belief it seemed.

Rain poured down as the second half kicked off with Ireland almost certainly assured to see out the result.

Scotland sparked into life as the second half played on and eight minutes in, Sean Maitland mulled off a neat break before Stuart Hogg attempted a grubber past the Irish 22m line but the move fizzled out.

Despite their improved performance, the torrential conditions made handling even harder with Ireland content to sit back and pounce on every error afforded them by their opponents.

56 minutes in and Ireland gobbled up the ball after a misplaced take by Ryan Wilson and Murray skilfully sent Andrew Conway sailing past Grant Gilchristto to score a try for a domineering score of 24-3 with around 30 minutes left in the match.

Conway’s awareness for the score was superb – he jumped to merely disrupt any Scottish attempts for a clean catch and had the wherewithal to get back out to the right wing, undetected, before breezing over.

60 minutes in and Ireland narrowly missed out on scoring. Chris Farrell roared past the Scottish defense before unloading a sweet pass to Lamour who proceeded to find Stockdale who failed to get a firm hold on the ball as Scotland heaved a collective sigh of relief.

There was no abating from the Irish as Jack Carty converted a penalty to add three more points to their lead. 27-3 to Ireland it stood 67 minutes in.

As the game entered its final 10 minutes, Scotland much to their credit kept at the Irish defense but with not much to show for it.

And so it finished in Yokohama. Full time highlighted the magnitude of Ireland’s victory. As painful as the defeat may have been for Scotland, it would certainly have served as a solid workout for their upcoming clash against feisty Samoa.

Ireland being the masters of seeing out games and choking their opponents claimed a brilliant victory that would certainly have empowered them before the high profile clash against Japan in six days’ time. Notwithstanding the damp conditions, the Men in Green delivered an absolutely fiery performance in Yokohama. This might have been a hint of Ireland peaking at the right time and returning to their 2018 form. In any case, bring it home lads!

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