Thursday, 17 October, 2019

Ireland face Samoa needing bonus-point win amid concerns about pitch

Robbie Henshaw Henshaw played in Ireland's final warm-up game against Wales but has not yet featured at the Rugby World Cup in Japan
Shannon Reynolds | 13 October, 2019, 05:23

Rejuvenated Ireland secured the bonus-point victory that ensured their qualification for the quarter-finals, despite playing the final 52 minutes with only 14 men after centre Bundee Aki became their first player to be sent off in a RWC match.

Dodson made his call as he refused to rule out taking legal action to make sure the climax to Pool A at Yokohama's International Stadium goes ahead.

Schmidt, the New Zealander on his final campaign with Ireland, was of course full of respect for the All Blacks who are shooting for a historic third straight World Cup crown at this tournament.

Think of Sexton's brain as a super rugby computer that can make millisecond calculations as to what the best outcome would be with the quality of ball he receives, and you might just about start to comprehend how important he is to any team he plays with. He faces a potential suspension that could rule him out for the rest of the tournament. Despite being one of his country's sharpest players in Japan, he has yet to score at this tournament - and the same goes for the prolific Jacob Stockdale (16 tries in 23 appearances), who starts on the other wing against the Samoans.

No 10 Johnny Sexton scored two of Ireland's seven tries and finished with 18 points.

Typhoon Hagibis has already forced the cancellation of England v France and New Zealand v Italy. On both occasions the Irish out-thought, as well as out-fought, Steve Hansen's side. Ireland's forwards took centre stage in the second half as they overpowered Samoa with some gallant carries to lay the foundation for three more tries by Jordan Larmour, CJ Stander and Andrew Conway.

The Connacht star had badly wanted to impress against his fatherland, but could now be banned for the remainder of the World Cup.

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"You can't control these things", he said.

Yeah, they are (back on track). "While the look of the turf may not be flawless, as would be expected with a very recent installation, we are confident that the pitch will perform superbly".

"You can look at it in a negative or a positive way".

"Another 20 minutes here in that game with only 14 men but they spent just about the whole game with only 14 men", he said. "We've got the chance to play against the host nation and it doesn't get any bigger than that". Some guys got through a mountain of work. We knew how good Samoa are we knew that they would come with no pressure on their shoulders, they would come at us both in attack and defense but we stood up. They just look sharp.

With a man-over advantage, one would have thought there would be a sense of belief in the Samoa team that they can pull off an upset against the more-favoured Ireland. If I would have been in that situation, personally it would have been tough as well. "You can see both his hands behind the shoulder blades of the player who's just starting to come up and it's all split-second stuff", he said.

"Again, as we've seen if there is any contact with the head, people have been penalised".

It was the seventh red card of this World Cup. "We all know it's extremely hard".

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