Amid the chaos of typhoon Hagibis hitting Japan, Ireland have booked themselves a place in the 2019 World Cup quarter-final. Ireland’s game versus Samoa was the only World Cup match taking place today, after cancellations due to safety concerns.
With all eyes in the rugby world on Ireland today, Joe Schmidt’s side made sure to impress. A 42 point victory over Samoa was a sure way for Ireland to send a clear message to all potential opponents going forward.
Ireland’s dominant performance meant that the result of today’s game never looked in doubt. Ireland scored their first try of the game within four minutes of the first whistle. It was all very easy for the world’s number one ranked side from then on. By half-time, Ireland had a bonus-point victory secured.
With all due respect to Samoa, the second half of this match felt like nothing more than a formality. Ireland entered the second half leading 26-5. However, Joe Schmidt’s side didn’t let-up there. Ireland went on to score another 21 points in the second half, to win the game 47-5.
Save for the blip versus Japan, Ireland have performed impressively in the pool-stage. They needed a bonus-point win versus Samoa to ensure qualification to the quarter-finals, and they’ve gotten that. The rest is now out of Irish hands. The result of Scotland versus Japan tomorrow, if it happens, will determine if Ireland finish in first, or second place.
Should the game be canceled, it will be declared a 0-0 draw, with both teams getting 2 points. Ireland and Japan would then be on 16 points each. Japan would still go on to win the pool, due to their win over Ireland.
Johnny Sexton started today’s game. This will be encouraging for Ireland. He played just over a half of rugby before Joey Carberry came on to finish the second half. With two tries and four conversions, Sexton scored a total of 18 points in this match. He was Ireland’s top point scorer in this game.
This game also gave Carberry the most action that he has seen all tournament. This is another encouraging sign for Ireland going into the quarter-finals. Ireland’s two world-class ‘10’s’ now appear to be approaching full fitness.
The one negative to today’s game for Ireland was the sending off of Bundee Aki. Aki was dismissed at the 29th-minute mark for a high tackle on Samoa’s Ulupano Seuteni.
Ireland were well capable of seeing through the Samoa game without Aki. However, Schmidt will be hoping that no further action is taken against his center.
Samoan head coach Steve Jackson has publically supported Aki in his post-match press conference. Jackson stated that he hopes “no further sanction comes to him.” Samoan captain Jack Lam has echoed his coach’s sentiments. Lam stated post-match that he hopes to “get to see (Aki) in the finals.”
Irish fans will too be hoping that Bundee Aki is not further reprimanded for this red-card. Aki could potentially miss the rest of the World Cup if his challenge is punished further. On top of that, suspended players can’t be replaced in the World Cup.
As soon as Ireland’s fly-half problems seem to go away, a new problem has appeared at center. Aki will undoubtedly be an important player for Ireland in the quarter-final stage and beyond. His suspension would be a big blow for Joe Schmidt.
Ireland: Jordan Larmour; Keith Earls, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale; Johnny Sexton, Conor Murray; Cian Healy, Rory Best (captain), Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson, James Ryan, Tadhg Beirne, Josh Van der Flier, CJ Stander.
Replacements: Niall Scannell, Dave Kilcoyne, Andrew Porter, Jean Kleyn, Peter O’Mahony, Luke McGrath, Joey Carbery, Andrew Conway.
Samoa: Tim Nanai-Williams; Ah See Tuala, Alapati Leiua, Henry Taefu, Ed Fidow; Ulupano Seuteni, Dwayne Polataivao; Logovii Mulipola, Seilala Lam, Michael Alaalatoa, Teofilo Paulo, Kane Le’aupepe, Chris Vui, TJ Ioane, Jack Lam (captain).
Replacements: Ray Niuia, Paul Alo-Emile, Jordan Lay, Piula Faasalele, Josh Tyrell, Pele Cowley, Tusi Pisi, Kieron Fonotia.