Before this game even started, Ireland was faced with an injury woe.
Joey Carbery’s ankle injury ruled him out of this morning’s clash. The Munster out-half had been named as cover at scrum-half for the game but had to be replaced by Conor Murray on the bench.
Carbery’s ankle injury was described as a “slight ankle irritation” must be now a concern for Joe Schmidt given he came into the tournament with an ankle injury and only returned to come off the bench against Japan last weekend.
Russia offered little in the first half, however, they did compete against Ireland in the breakdown which for the majority of the time, didn’t work out for them having given away eight penalties in the process.
Ireland got out of the blocks quickly thanks to fullback Rob Kearney. Straight out of the Leinster playbook, Kearney’s cool hands and nice running lines got Ireland’s account up and running at Kobe Stadium.
Peter O’Mahony dotted down for Ireland’s second try a few minutes later. Jonathan Sexton found plenty of space to chip the ball inside to the Munster captain for his first try in six years.
The game itself aside, the more worrying aspect overall was the suspected rib injury Jordi Muprhy sustained after just 28 minutes of play.
The Ulster back row only arrived in Japan on Sunday as a replacement for Jack Conan who was sent home due to a foot fracture he picked up in training. Hopefully, Murphy’s injury won’t mean a call to home for further backup, as back-row/number 8 options will be dwindling.
Some excellent leg driving from Rhys Ruddock who was brilliantly accompanied by John Ryan to tip the weight balance in Ireland’s favour made it try number three. Sexton added the extras with the boot to give Ireland a 21 point lead at halftime.
For an Ireland perspective, the fizz went out of the game at the start of the second half. A number of Irish handling errors, in particular, will no doubt be addressed during the video analysis sessions next week.
However, Ireland’s handling and passing found form when an excellent offload from Keith Earls found the hands of Andrew Conway to break away and sprint in to seal a Bonus Point try just after the hour mark.
It’s hard to assess this game from an Ireland standpoint. Given their number one status, they should have clocked up more points than they did against the Russians. A brilliantly executed fifth Irish try thanks to the work of Earls, Lamour and Ringrose with the finish improved the scoreboard.
Rhys Ruddock earned himself a well deserved Player of the Match Award. Ruddock was one of the few players who put in a decent shift in Kobe.
Although Ireland kept Russia to nil, they still appear to have one or two missing jigsaw pieces three games into the 2019 Rugby World Cup. The overall concern would be where Cabery and Murphy are at on the injury scale, as well as Robbie Henshaw who is yet to appear in this year’s tournament.
Up next for Ireland is Samoa on Saturday, October 12th. Joe Schmidt’s side will need to get a bonus point victory if they want to guarantee themselves a quarter-final place.
KEY MATCH NOTES
2” Ireland TRY, Kearney. Con, Sexton (7-0)
13” Ireland TRY, O’Mahony. Con, Sexton (14-0)
35” Ireland TRY, Ruddock. Con, Sexton. (21-0)
40” Halftime. Ireland 21-0 Russia
62” Ireland TRY, (BP), Conway. Con, Carty (28-0)
75″ Ireland TRY, Ringrose, Con, Carty
80″ Fulltime. Ireland 35-0 Russia