Ireland Steamrolls USA 71-10 in Dublin
Ireland Steamrolls USA 71-10 in Dublin
Ireland hammered an error-strewn USA team Saturday at Aviva Stadium in Dublin.
Ireland got four tries from hooker Ronan Kelleher, equaling Ireland hooker Keith Wood's four-try performance against the USA in 1999. The Eagles had a long period of possession and territory at the beginning of the game but failed to score, and after that Ireland took control of the game.
And it didn't help the USA that they committed a number of mistakes, and then saw flanker Riekert Hattingh red-carded for a dangerous tackle with 27 minutes to go.
The USA started the game getting the better of a battle of box kicks, and eventually got a penalty that was kickable for flyhalf Luke Carty. They opted to kick for the lineout, however, and were unable to win that lineout. They had another shots at that but fumbled the lineout play.
In fact it was Ireland that scored first, breaking through the middle of the field, getting a penalty, which flyhalf Joey Carbery put over.
Once again the USA got on the front foot and took the lineout. This time they ran their maul and Joe Taufete'e peeled off, but he was stopped at the line. Ireland was penalized in front of the posts, and the Eagles went for the lineout again, bashed against the line repeatedly, were stopped repeatedly, and eventually gave up a penalty for not releasing.
And that was it. After that, the USA didn't come close more than a couple of times until near the end of the game.
Instead, Ireland kicked free, and from the lineout ran a play with wing Robert Baloucoune bursting through the middle and beating several woudl-be tacklers to score a spectacular try. Carbery was good on the conversion.
The Eagles finally did get some points, with pressure from Greg Peterson forcing a penalty and Carty put it over to make it 10-3.
Ireland replied with yet another lineout prompted by a penalty, mauling it over with Kelleher finishing it off. Moments later a kick ahead forced Mike Te'o to put the ball into touch and another maul saw Nick Timoney score and it was 24-3.
The Eagles then kicked possession away and put no pressure on the kick. Ireland spin it wide and Andrew Conway chipped past the cover, gathered, and libked with Hugo Keenan who fed Kelleher for the hooker's second.
That made it 31-3 at halftime. It could have been worse had Hattingh not laid in a powerful cover tackle to knock the ball loose. But the Eagles looked desultory in their defensive line and showed now consistent ability to get through the Irish line.
The second half started almost disastrously, when scrumhalf Ruben de Haas's box kick attempt blocked. That looked to be a try all the way but somehow de Haas chases the play down to force a knock-on at the tryline. But the pressure remains and eventually a penalty on Taufete'e for a high tackle set up a lineout and a maul for Kelleher to score another.
Even when the Eagles did something good, like stop a maul and get out of trouble, they'd then lose the ball out of the side of the ruck and be on defense again. The fatigue started to creep in, and then Hattingh was pinged for a tackle where his shoulder hit the ballcarrier's chin. No option for referee Mathieu Raynal, and it was a red card.
So now down to 14 men, the USA was under enormous pressure. Ireland punished that Hattingh penalty with another maul and a try, and then some nifty open field play put center Stuart McCloskey over. A muffed exchange at the base of the ruck gave Ireland the ball and McCloskey kicked deep for fullback Hugo Keenan to race in and score.
Finally the Eagles got a shot to score, getting a penalty that allowed a kick to touch. But the throw went long (or the lift wasn't right), and Ireland was out of trouble. With the score now 64-3 the USA kept battling. Finally they strung some positive phases together, and got a penalty and kicked to the corner. Ireland pulled down the maul illegally twice, and still the USA couldn't score. Finally reserve hooker Kapeli Pifeleti tapped and charged to the line. The USA recycled a few times, inched closer and closer, and finally reserve scrumhalf Michael Baske dove under Irish arms to get it onto the line.
Will Magie converted, and that might have been the end of it except the Eagles opted to take a lineout with time up, lost the ball, and eventually Ireland crashed No. 8 Gavin Coombes over.
So it wasn't pretty. While the scrum hung on quite well, and that early pressure was positive, the Eagles couldn't link consistently on their lineout, they couldn't convert possession into line breaks, and they couldn't avoid dumb turnovers.
Defensively and offensively the USA was too passive against a team eager to make an impression.
"I think Ireland out-enthused us a bit," said USA captain Bryce Campbell. "We came off to a good start and just didn't ride the momentum early. It wasn't for lack of effort but their expansive game out wide tested us a lot today."
Campbell said that learning from this and building toward the World Cup qualifiers this fall are the key goals of this trip. As a result, he didn't regret the decision to go for tries early.
"There's always a bigger picture for us in these last two weeks. We learned a lot. We didn't necessarily come here to win a game; we had a lot of confidence in our forwards to get it done early. I think we'd have done the same thing ; we just didn't finish the opportunities."
Tries: Kelleher 4, Baloucoune, Timoney, McCloskey, Keenan, Coombes
Convs: Carbery 5, Byrne 4
15. Hugo Keenan, 14. Robert Baloucoune, 13. James Hume, 12. Stuart McCloskey, 11. Andrew Conway, 10. Joey Carbery, 9. Craig Casey, 1. Dave Kilcoyne, 2. Ronan Kelleher, 3. Tom O’Toole, 4. Ryan Baird, 5. James Ryan, 6. Caelan Doris, 7. Nick Timoney, 8. Gavin Coombes,
Reserves: 16. Dave Heffernan, 17. Ed Byrne, 18. Finlay Bealham, 19. Fineen Wycherley, 20. Paul Boyle, 21. Caolin Blade, 22. Harry Byrne, 23. Will Addison
1. David Ainu'u, 2. Joe Taufete'e, 3. Paul Mullen, 4. Gregory Peterson, 5. Nick Civetta, 6. Hanco Germishuys, 7. Riekert Hattingh, 8. Cam Dolan, 9. Ruben de Haas, 10. Luke Carty, 11. Mika Kruse, 12. Bryce Campbell, 13. Calvin Whiting, 14. Christian Dyer, 15. Mike Te'o
16. Kapeli Pifeleti (@47 for Taufete'e), 17. Matt Harmon (@66 for Ainu'u), 18. Dino Waldren (@72 for Mullen), 19. Nate Brakeley (@40 for Peterson), 20. Psalm Wooching (@65 for Germishuys), 21. Andrew Guerra (@72 for Dolan), 22. Michael Baska (@59 for de Haas), 23. Will Magie (@63 for Dyer @69 for Carty)