RWC 19: Ireland edge past Samoa into quarters
Oct. 13, 2019
As Typhoon Hagibis struck and moved along across central Japan on October 12, the match between Ireland and Samoa got underway at the Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium in Fukuoka city.
Ireland played their hearts out en route to a 47–5 victory to all but see them through into the quarter-finals. This was despite playing with 14 men for close to an hour after centre, Bundee Aki, was sent off in the 29th minute for a dangerous high tackle on Ulupano Seuteni.
With no real threat looming at a windy Fukuoka, save for non-violent wind gusts which circled across the stadium ground, the match took off in earnest. This ensured that Ireland flyhalf, Johnny Sexton, grabbed a brace of tries – earning the bonus point that secured their passage to the last eight.
Skipper Rory Best, prop Tadgh Furlong, fullback Jordan Larmour, number eight CJ Stander and winger Andrew Conway all crossed for the Irish in a seven-try blitz. Ireland will face either champions New Zealand or South Africa in the knockouts on October 19 or 20.
“You’ve got to be at your very, very best to have a chance. They’re not back-to-back World Cup winners for no reason,” Ireland coach, Joe Schmidt, said pre-empting a New Zealand challenge. “For us, it would be, to a degree, a mountain to climb. But if it is the All Blacks we’ll look to scale those heights.”
Regardless of the opposition, Schmidt is likely to be without Aki, but on the bright side, he will have an otherwise fully fit squad to choose from. Four years ago, Ireland won a bruising encounter with France in Cardiff in their final pool game. Hit by injury, they lost badly to Argentina. At least now, they are assured to move on with their momentum restored.