World Cup Round Up: Ireland

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Ireland’s tournament was a total rollercoaster from start to finish. Drawn in a difficult Pool including the Tri-Nations champions, Australia, the always dangerous Italy and the incredibly physical Russians, there was no guarantee that the Men In Green would even progress to the knockout stages.

Ireland began their World Cup campaign on a horrendous day in New Plymouth on the 11th September against a determined side from the USA and fought for every point in a surprisingly tight 22-10 victory. PUMA’s Tommy Bowe got off to a flying start with two beautifully taken tries and the Irish began to focus their attention on the biggest game of Pool C versus Australia.

Ireland were never expected to beat the Wallabies after a decidedly lacklustre warm-up to the competition and a slightly unconvincing victory in their opening fixture. With nothing to lose and a massive Irish following inside Eden Park, Ireland’s vastly experienced side produced an inspired performance dominating the Australians at the scrum and in the pack to claim a famous 15-6 victory. Ireland’s desire was best exemplified by Mike Ross who led the Irish forwards heroically, drawing penalties and paving the way for success. The win will go down in Irish rugby history as their first ever over a southern hemisphere side in the southern hemisphere – a fantastic achievement that put Ireland’s name into the hat as a genuine contender for the World Cup crown.

Ireland’s class was far too much for the powerful Russians as they ran in nine tries to romp home 62 points to 12, including a beautifully crafted first half try for PUMA’s Andrew Trimble to set up a final showdown with Six Nations rivals, Italy. Ireland were once again buoyed by a partisan crowd of 28,000 in Dunedin who witnessed a very tight first 40 minutes with Ireland carrying a 3 point lead into the second half. Tommy Bowe continued to look dangerous on the break setting up the first Irish try, whilst Andrew Trimble combined for a great run and assist that led to a score in the corner. A fantastic display throughout the Pool saw Declan Kidney’s men emerge unbeaten to set up a quarter final clash with near neighbours, Wales.

By their own admission, Ireland did not perform to the maximum against a young and talented Welsh side who were described as “fearless” after their quarter final match-up. Ireland failed to convert 60 per cent territory and 57 per cent possession into points in the first half and went into halftime 7 points adrift. The Welsh maintained their lead after defending valiantly and were more clinical in attack eventually taking the game 22-10.

Ireland were bitterly disappointed to go out in the fashion that they did after showing their true potential in the Pool games, but their World Cup will long be remembered for the epic victory over the two-time champions and the sea of green support that followed the boys throughout!

Can they repeat their success in the Six Nations in 2012?

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