Ireland cruised into the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals by demolishing Scotland 36-14 in a fiery game in their final Pool B match at the Stade de France on Saturday.
Hugo Keenan scored two of Ireland’s six tries against a Scottish side that slid to its ninth successive defeat at the hands of the Irish.
The record-extending 17th Test victory pitches Ireland into a repeat of the 2019 quarter-final with three-time champions New Zealand next Saturday. The All Blacks won that round.
Captain Johnny Sexton said the atmosphere created by the Irish supporters had even surpassed that during the defeat of South Africa two weeks ago.
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Latecomers would have missed the lightning start made by the Irish that gave the tens of thousands of fans from Ireland just the start they desired in Paris.
James Lowe went over in the left-hand corner in the second minute, Garry Ringrose creating it by piercing the Scottish defence, but Johnny Sexton failed to convert.
The Scottish came back hard but the Irish defence held firm and won a penalty allowing them to clear the danger.
The Irish were conceding a fair share of penalties under pressure but once again, despite the Scots having a huge amount of possession, the Irish repelled them and cleared it.
The rub of the green was going all Ireland’s way.
Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend was out of his seat in a fury when a touch was not called as Ireland fullback Keenan looked to have his foot on the line when he caught a clearance.
The Irish then missed a glorious chance to score a second try when under pressure from Jamie Ritchie Mack Hansen fumbled the pass from Peter O’Mahony with the tryline metres away.
The Scots, though, suffered a serious loss as Ritchie was injured in the hit on Hansen and had to go off in the 19th minute holding his arm.
His departure was the second within the first quarter for the Scots — fullback Blair Kinghorn’s 50th appearance had only lasted a matter of minutes due to a knock to the head.
The Irish too lost Hansen as a result of the Ritchie hit as he went for a Head Injury Assessment — he returned but not for long as he walked off feeling his leg.
The Irish showed the Scots how to take your chances with a beautiful move, with Sexton involved twice, and again Ringrose providing the killer pass feeding Keenan, going in the left-hand corner.
Sexton made no mistake with the conversion for 12-0 as the game approached the half-hour mark.
The task facing the Scots became all but insurmountable when Iain Henderson marked his return to the starting XV by going over from close range and Sexton converted for 19-0.
Australian referee Nic Berry proved a better defender than the Scots as an Irish pass hit him in the midriff as they pressed close to the line.
The Irish were rampant, though, and went over for another try. Sexton’s long pass found Keenan, who went over for his second of the match and secured the Irish the bonus point and Sexton converted to make it 26-0 at half-time.
Tempers boiled over early in the second-half between two teams who have a history of animosity between them.
Sexton and Ollie Smith had words and then the Scottish replacement fullback put his leg out as the Ireland captain walked past, provoking a free for all.
Smith was sin-binned, leaving the pitch with a wry smile on his lips. Hooker Dan Sheehan had ended up over an advertising hoarding pushed by burly prop Pierre Schoeman — but minutes later he was celebrating scoring Ireland’s fifth try.
Sexton failed to convert and went off to a thunderous reception for a valuable rest ahead of next week’s quarter-final.
The Irish did not let up, Ringrose deservedly getting a try — his sizeable centre partner Bundee Aki jumping into his arms.
The conversion attempt by Jack Crowley, who had set up the try with a delightful crossfield kick, hit a post leaving the Irish 36-0 up.
The Scots went over for two consolation tries but it was way too late and minutes later it was Ireland’s unofficial anthem “Zombie” by the Cranberries ringing round the stadium
SAMOA COACH ACCUSES REFS OF ‘UNCONSCIOUS BIAS’ AFTER LOSS
Samoa head coach Seilala Mapusua said on Saturday lower-ranked nations suffered from an “unconscious bias” from referees after the narrow 18-17 loss to England in the Rugby World Cup.
Mapusua’s side led with seven minutes to go in Lille but were penalised 14 times and shown a yellow card by Andrew Brace “I believe there is, I believe there has been in the past,” Mapusua told reporters.
“I don’t think it’s anyone’s fault.
“It’s what I’ve seen for the last I don’t know how many years, from when I was playing,” the former Samoa and London Irish centre added.
Samoa captain Michael Alaalatoa agreed with his coach, pointing out sides like Tonga and Fiji have also suffered the same fate.
“From what I’ve seen, all Pacific Island nations in the past when they play games, you have to nail everything to get an outcome,” the prop said.
“If you don’t it’s going to cost you, whether it’s a skill error or giving penalties away,” he added.
Danny Care’s try, converted by England captain Owen Farrell, in the 73rd minute denied Samoa a first victory over the 2003 World Cup winners.
“Proud is an understatement,” Mapusua said.
“I thought we were pretty dominant in most aspects of the game. “We stopped England’s game for about 70 minutes,” he added.
Farrell said his team was “scrappy” as they came back to edge Samoa 18-17 after trailing by nine points with half an hour to play.
The 2003 winners were already guaranteed top spot in Pool D before kick-off and needed Danny Care’s late try to beat the Pacific Islanders, who were already knocked out.
Farrell kicked two penalties and a conversion in Lille as he broke Jonny Wilkinson’s points record for the country before next Sunday’s quarter-final with, in all likelihood, Fiji.
“It was scrappy, it did not feel like the best from us,” Farrell told ITV.
“All credit to Samoa and how they came out and got at us, it was tough to deal with at times and we did not deal with it discipline-wise and with mistakes.”
After defeats by Japan and Argentina, it marked the end of a disappointing World Cup for the Samoans, although they more than showed their potential in this final pool match.
England opened the scoring after just 10 minutes as Manu Tuilagi, facing his country of birth, set-up lock Ollie Chessum before Farrell missed his first chance to overtake Wilkinson’s tally.
The score remained 5-0 after a quarter of an hour after ex-All Black Lima Sopoaga missed a straight-forward penalty, having been forced to change his decade-old kicking tee after losing it after September’s victory over Chile.
Farrell, 31, then surpassed Wilkinson’s England tally of 1,179 points with a penalty before the Pacific Islanders proved what Mapusua meant by wanting his side to be “unapologetically Samoan” earlier in the week.
By the half-hour mark, the Samoans were in front and in control, combining power and skill as winger Nigel Ah Wong crossed twice, his second coming from an inch-perfect cross-kick by centre Danny Toala.
On-fire Samoa were denied a third try as the television match official had spotted a Tumua Manu knock-on in the build-up to Duncan Paia’aua’s effort despite Andrew Brace awarding it on the field, much to the disgust of the local French fans who were supporting the Pacific Islanders.
England were shell-shocked and their inability to deal with Samoa’s intensity was highlighted by Farrell’s unnecessary knock-on seconds before the half-time whistle with the score at 14-8.
Samoa continued to dominate after the break with Paia’aua only stopped from scoring with a last-ditch George Ford tackle 10m from the England line.
Local fans shouted the French chant “Allez Les Bleus” which struck a tone with the Samoans, who were playing in blue, before a Sopoaga penalty extended the advantage to 17-8 with half an hour to play.
England were also denied tries by the TMO after Chessum’s double-movement and Maro Itoje’s forward pass for Joe Marchant as Borthwick’s side slowly came back into the contest.
With a quarter of the game left Samoa’s lead was just six points after Farrell slotted a penalty following an off the ball tackle on him by Toala.
Farrell then wasted a chance to cut Samoa’s advantage even further as he took longer than the allowed 60 seconds to take a penalty, adding to the tension of the final quarter of an hour.
England were camped in Samoa’s 22m, and had the ascendancy at scrum-time with the Pacific Islanders’ centre Manu yellow-carded for taking out Farrell in the air.
The pressure told with seven minutes to go as replacement scrum-half Danny Care strolled over from a scrum before Farrell’s conversion claimed the victory.
Samoa still had time to claim a win but Alamanda Motuga failed to cleanly catch Neria Fomai’s off-load metres from the England tryline with 90 seconds to go.
Farrell then kicked the ball dead, with boos ringing around Stade Pierre-Mauroy, leaving Samoa’s Pacific Island neighbours waiting eagerly for next weekend’s last-eight tie in Marseille.
HAT-TRICK HERO POWERS WALES TO VICTORY
Elsewhere, Louis Rees-Zammit scored a second-half hat-trick of tries to help Wales to a 43-19 victory over Georgia in Nantes on Saturday to finish top of Pool C at the Rugby World Cup.
Wales will now play the winners of the showdown between Argentina and Japan, who play in Nantes on Sunday, in the quarter-finals in Marseille next weekend.
Warren Gatland’s team came into the game at a sun-kissed Stade de la Beaujoire needing just a point to guarantee top spot in Pool C and made no mistake of the bonus-point win, albeit laboured and pedestrian at times.
The victory extended to eight Wales’ winning streak in pool matches, but consigned Georgia — who registered a 35-15 loss to Australia, an 18-18 draw with Portugal and a 17-12 defeat by Fiji — to fourth-placed finish in the pool which means they miss out on an automatic qualification for the 2027 World Cup.
A cagey opening spell saw both teams opting to kick as they tested each other out.
A Tommy Reffell turnover spurred Wales’ first proper chance of crossing the Georgian whitewash, Sam Costelow tackled into touch as the ball was worked left.
Tomas Francis was on hand to crash over from short range after a kick to the corner, Costelow converting.
Georgia roared back up the pitch, flanker Beka Saginadze bouncing off three tackles like a wrecking ball before the attack was snuffed out.
Rio Dyer’s fine chase and tackle on Lasha Khmaladze saw Georgia concede possession and from a penalty Costelow’s precision-perfect pass found Liam Williams in space, the full-back stepping his way over the line.
Costelow converted and then kicked a penalty to stretch Wales’ lead to 17 unanswered points.
Georgia were not done, however, skipper Merab Sharikadze, back at centre in one of five changes from last week’s loss to Fiji, barrelled his way over under the posts. Luka Matkava kicked the extras to leave it 17-7 at half-time.
Wales struck within two minutes of the restart, George North picking up a stray Georgian pass to feed Rees-Zammit for an easy run-in.
Akaki Tabutsadze was just bundled into touch as Wales failed to get a proper grip on the match, the winger then sparking down the left flank as Georgia pressed.
They had their just desserts when Vano Karkadze was driven over as the ball was recycled from a driving maul.
Shortly after Davit Niniashvili broke clear of the Welsh defence to cross for Georgia’s third try and thoughts of that infamous 2007 World Cup loss to Fiji, also in Nantes, resurfaced.
Costelow missed a long-range penalty, but converted a second try by Rees-Zammit, the winger settling Wales nerves after latching on to a clever Williams chip over a stretched Georgian defence.
French referee Mathieu Raynal then brandished yellow cards for Taine Basham and Niniashvili after the replacement Wales flanker went in high, an act that sparked an all-in push and shove.
Rees-Zammit was awarded a third try after chasing a grubber, although he had looked to have knocked the ball on.
George North put the cherry on the cake with a late try to leave Wales top of their World Cup pool for the fourth time in World Cup (1987, 1999, 2019).
Of more concern to Gatland could be injuries to emblematic No 8 Taulupe Faletau and Williams, while Costelow was a late starter in place of Gareth Anscombe, who picked up a groin injury in the warm-up.
Source website: www.foxsports.com.au