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Ireland delivered on their promise to hit form when it mattered most by stunning Scotland 27-3 with a bonus-point blitz to launch their Japanese World Cup quest in style.
James Ryan, Rory Best, Tadhg Furlong and Andrew Conway all crossed in Yokohama as Ireland made good on all their pre-tournament pledges.
Ireland’s muscle-bound victory hands Joe Schmidt’s men a fine chance to top Pool A and book a likely quarter-final battle with South Africa, following the Springboks’ loss to New Zealand.
Ireland entered the tournament as the world’s top-ranked team for the first time in history, but were also dogged by the spectre of their record 57-15 defeat by England at Twickenham just last month.
Head coach Schmidt’s tournament plans had been heavily scrutinised, Rory Best’s captaincy had been questioned, and Ireland were left to lament a second frustrating loss to England in the calendar year.
All boss Schmidt’s plans came to fruition on the shores of Tokyo Bay however, with skipper Best leading from the front with a timeless, tub-thumping, try-scoring turn.
Ireland will move on to face hosts Japan in Shizuoka on Saturday feeling fully vindicated in their preparations, boasting a spring in their step and a zip in their play.
Schmidt’s men entered this clash missing backline stalwarts Rob Kearney and Keith Earls through injury, but their understudies Jordan Larmour and Conway excelled in a hugely-comprehensive Ireland performance.
Scotland’s wretched afternoon was worsened all the more by a nasty-looking knee injury to Hamish Watson, that could well end his tournament.
Watson’s left knee buckled amid a robust but legal double ruck cleanout from Cian Healy and Tadhg Furlong,
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