Rugby Ireland display credentials to tackle Rugby World Cup heavyweights

Rugby Ireland display credentials to tackle Rugby World Cup heavyweights

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    Sam BruceESPN Associate Editor

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      Sam was brought up on long drives and the dusty fields of north-west New South Wales, where he developed his love of rugby from an early age. He joined ESPNscrum after a five-year stint heading up Fox Sports Australia’s digital rugby coverage.

YOHOHAMA, Japan — A tremendous first-half built on forward dominance, set-piece authority and the box-kicking of veteran scrum-half Conor Murray gave Ireland the perfect start to their Rugby World Cup campaign, despite coach Joe Schmidt deeming it not worthy of comparison with the All Blacks and Springboks’ efforts the previous night.

There was just a little bit of luck for the Irish, too, who were, as usual, supported in droves by a travelling legion of green that spilled out from Shin-Yokohama station and up to International Stadium in the hours before kick-off of their 27-3 win over Scotland.

What those supporters witnessed was a performance typical of the Joe Schmidt tenure, a supremely organised game plan that saw his side control proceedings for much of the first half and snuff out the brief moments of Scottish play that did show some promise. Ireland were also ruthless with the opportunities that went their way, and four tries was the result.

Less than 24 hours after the All Blacks had taken care of Springboks, the Irish provided a Rugby World Cup message of their own that will have anyone doubting their claims as potential tournament winners re-evaluating their assessment.

Not that Schmidt thought his side was at the level of either of Saturday night’s combatants.

“I thought it was heavyweight contest last night, and we might be light-heavyweight/middleweight; I don’t know,” the New Zealander said.

Three first-half tries had

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