DUBLIN (NWN) – Ireland warmed up for New Zealand after beating Japan 60-5 at Lansdowne Road on Saturday.
The three biggest cheers were reserved for captain Jonathan Sexton on the occasion of his 100th cap for Ireland: when he entered the stadium alone before kickoff, when he made a try, and when he pointed to the Irish rugby crest. Left after a few moments. jersey.
Wing Andrew Conway made three of his nine attempts, many of them stylish and highlight-reel-worthy.
But if Ireland wanted a serious workout before welcoming the All Blacks next weekend they didn’t get it. Japan, which pushed the British and Irish Lions in June, lost to Ireland 39-31 in July, and took Australia to the brink last month, did not show up.
Japan’s defense was poor, its game was patchy, and its effort was lacking.
Ireland came back strong from their July encounter with the return of the Lions – five of whom were on the bench – and the Giants including Sexton. With a near-perfect crowd in the stadium, and a landmark for the hugely popular Sexton, Ireland was determined to put on a show.
They were on board within four minutes; Center Bundy Aki and No. 8 Jack Conan give wing James Lowe a very easy free run in the corner.
Lowe was dropped during the Six Nations and missed the July test due to injury. His pride was prickly but he heeded the questions of the coaches and looked for work.
He kept the ball alive for Conway’s first try from a Jamison Gibson Park Gruber.
After the forwards trampled Japan for 30 metres, smooth passes by Aki, Sexton and Hugo Keenan sent Conway untouched into the corner for his second attempt.
If Japan thought Ireland were in a playful mood, a tackle by Tadhag Furlong by Kotaro Matsushima was slammed in, and center Timothy LaFell hit hard opposite Gary Ringrose.
Just before halftime, another clinical drama from Ireland was worth a try. Conan stole a lineout, a Sexton bomb was caught by Keenan, Ireland rumbled on the line and Tadhag Furlong appeared to score on his 50th cap. But a slight knock was detected and the attempt failed.
Nevertheless, Japan’s hooker Atsushi Sakate was sin-hindered and Ireland went 29–0 at halftime, its best interval score since the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
After halftime it started to rain and became heavy, and Ireland did not score for eight minutes until Japan touched down, Keenan returned a 50:22 kick, and Gibson Park attacked the blind and Sexton scored one. Huge roar.
Japan got their try by Siosia Fifita, while teams emptied their benches, then Sexton came out after three quarters of the typically sterling work and 16 points, as much as he made in Ireland’s debut against Fiji in 2009.
Despite the rain, Ireland finished with attempts from Aki, Ringrose, Conway and Sean Healy on debut after a quick tap by prop Dan Sheehan for their hat-trick.
Next Saturday it shouldn’t be that easy.
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