Rugby | Ireland labour to bonus-point win over Russia

Ireland have beaten Pool A rivals Russia 35-0 in Kobe.

Joe Schmidt’s side recorded five tries and a bonus point at Kobe City Misaki Park Stadium.

The bonus-point victory means that Ireland are guaranteed a place in the quarter-finals if they register five match points against Samoa next week.

Ireland looked lethargic and flat for large parts of the game, despite the comfortable margin of victory.

Schmidt’s men made the perfect start, scoring a try within two minutes through Rob Kearney.

The full back showed great pace to drive forward from deep, sprinting clear of the Russia defence to ground the ball behind the whitewash and record the fastest try of the tournament thus far.

Johnny Sexton, captaining Ireland in a World Cup game for the first time, converted to make it 7-0.

Ireland’s second try arrived in the 12th minute, with Peter O’Mahony running on to Sexton’s delightful grubber to run between the posts and score his first try since 2013.

Sexton made no mistake from the subsequent conversion to extend Ireland’s lead to 12-0.

Difficult conditions inside the stadium resulted in a slippery ball, but many of Ireland’s unforced errors were of their own making.

The men in green conceded three penalties and nine turnovers in the first half, with Russia making the favourites look uncomfortable at times throughout the game.

Jordi Murphy – who was brought into the squad in recent days to replace the injured Jack Conan – was forced to be withdrawn after 26 minutes after picking up a rib injury, and was replaced by CJ Stander.

Russia lost lock Bogdan Fedotko to a yellow card in the 33rd minute, and Ireland made the Bears pay two minutes later.

Rhys Ruddock – who racked up 10 tackles in the opening 40 minutes – bulldozed his way over the line with the help of John Ryan to notch Ireland’s third try, with Sexton splitting the posts once again to add two further points to Ireland’s tally.

Ireland led 21-0 at the interval, but laboured through the second half against a team ranked 20th in the world.

Sexton was withdrawn at the break, with Jack Carty coming on to replace the captain.

Ireland continued to make unforced errors in the early stages of the second half, squandering some promising attacks.

Russia then lost replacement lock Andrey Ostrikov to a yellow card in the 51st minute for a challenge on John Ryan which could have resulted in a red on another occasion.

Ireland finally secured their bonus point in the 62nd minute.

Carty’s probing high kick was caught by Keith Earls, who offloaded to the onrushing Andrew Conway.

Conway showed great pace to sprint clear of the covering Russian backs and touch down Ireland’s fourth try.

Carty tapped over the conversion to make it 28-0.

Jordan Larmour added a fifth try five minutes from time after a strong run from Jordan Larmour, and saw a second try ruled out for a knock on in the dying minutes of the game.

While Ireland got the job done, the flat nature of the performance will do little to give New Zealand or South Africa restless nights ahead of the quarter-finals.

Ireland will need to improve in a lot of areas if they are to reach the last four.

They conceded 22 turnovers in total against their European opponents, who are the lowest ranked team in the tournament and who played 20 of the 80 minutes with 14 men.

Next up is Samoa on October 12th.

Ireland: R Kearney (J Larmour 50); A Conway, G Ringrose, B Aki, K Earls; J Sexton (J Carty h-t), L McGrath; D Kilcoyne (A Porter 58), N Scannell (S Cronin 58), John Ryan (T Furlong 58); T Beirne, J Kleyn (I Henderson 61); R Ruddock, P O’Mahony, J Murphy (CJ Stander 28).

Russia: V Artemyev (capt); G Davydov, I Galinovskiy, K Golosnitskiy (K Golosnitskiy 14), D Simlikevich (R Khodin 71); R Gaisin, D Perov; A Polivalov, E Matveev (S Selskii 71), K Gotovtsev (V Podrezov 68); A Garbuzov (A Ostrikov 51), B Fedotko; A Sychev, T Gadzhiev, V Gresev.