Ireland have made work of their pool C opening match against the USA, winning 22-10 in a rain soaked match in New Plymouth.
The Irish dominated throughout but struggled to pierce an organised American defense. The three tries scored not enough to capture the bonus point. Ireland’s dominance of the scrums set the tone for the match, the first scrum sent the American pack backwards at a rate of knots.
For all their pressure and possession, it looked as if a solitary penalty to Sexton in the 16th minute would be the only thing separating the two sides at the interval. But a try to Tommy Bowe in the last minute from close range gave the Irish some breathing space.
In the second half, the Americans continued their excellent defense display, captain Todd Clever leading from the front with some strong tackles. They were rewarded for their efforts after an attacking raid of the Irish line earned them a penalty, James Paterson slotted home the goal.
Ireland hit back immediately From the resulting kick-off. Ireland secured the ball from a line-out and Rory Best touched down from the resulting rolling maul. O’Gara could not convert, but Ireland were in again a few minutes later. Bowe grabbing a double after some nice play from captain Brian O’Driscoll. This time O’Gara converted to make it 22-3 with a quarter of the match to play.
The USA gave their travelling fans something to cheer about on the final whistle. With Ireland attacking on halfway, Paul Emerick picked out a pass from Gordon D’Arcy and ran 50m to score under the posts. It was fully deserved after a strong display from the Americans. Giving them some confidence for their game against Russia on Thursday.
Man of the match: Todd Clever was huge for the Americans, but its hard to go past the Irish pack. The way they destroyed the US scrum was a sight to behold and will give the American pack nightmares. A repeat of that effort against the improved Australian scrum will be needed.
Tries: Bowe (2), Best
Con: Sexton (1), O’Gara (1)
Pen: Sexton (1)
Con: Malifa (1)
Pen: Paterson (1)
By Alex Barlow-Smith