A look back at the highs and lows of Ireland's bonus-point win over Canada in their opening World Cup game
Ireland wrapped up the bonus point before half-time in their opening World Cup game but could not build on their advantage until late in the second half in the face of stubborn Canadian defence. They finished with a flourish, scoring three tries in the last 15 minutes, but despite running in seven tries they will feel they could have been more precise in capitalising on attacking opportunities.
Johnny Sexton – Whether it was pin-perfect kicks to the corner, booting the ball accurately across the field or setting up his back-line to attack with his sharp distribution, the Ireland fly-half was on fire. He even showed his pace when taking an inside ball to sprint for the corner in the first half.
Positive mental attitude – Canada may have conceded four tries within 35 minutes, but they kept playing throughout. Not only did they test the Irish line on several occasions, DTH van der Merwe particularly sprightly and going over for a deserved try late on, but their defence held up well for the most part and kept Ireland scoreless for much of the second half.
Irish support – Ireland’s fans piled into the Millennium Stadium and the noise they generated will have made it feel like a home game for Paul O’Connell & Co. Ireland will be hoping the supporters do the same as the games go on, particularly when they’re back in Cardiff to face France.
Iain Henderson – The Ulster lock has been getting better and better over the past few weeks. His performance against Wales earned him a starting berth ahead of Devin Toner against Canada and he certainly made his case for keeping that shirt throughout the tournament. As a ball-carrier he consistently made dents in the Canada defence, barrelling over for a try, while he also made some critical interventions in defence.
Jamie Cudmore – Canada’s captain may have a reputation as a ‘bad boy’ but he has not lived up to that in recent seasons. However, he will be ruing the yellow card he picked up after 15 minutes for cynical play as Ireland drove for the line. While he was in the sin-bin, the Irish were able to build a big advantage.
Opportunities missed – Ireland may have secured the bonus point but they will be disappointing they weren’t more clinical. A few inaccurate cross-kicks and bad decisions cost them tries – and they will need to be more ruthless to top Pool D. The number of penalties Ireland conceded will also be a worry for Joe Schmidt.
Trains – First Great Western were forced to apologise after fans travelling to Cardiff endured delays and overcrowding on trains. Some supporters reportedly missed kick-off due to the delays and had to rush from the station to the stadium.
97 – The percentage of territory Ireland had in the last ten minutes, to go with 96% possession.
137 – The metres made by DTH van der Merwe, the most of any player.
10 – The number of turnovers won by Ireland compared to three by Canada.
Ireland: R Kearney (S Zebo 79); D Kearney J Payne, L Fitzgerald, K Earls; J Sexton (I Madigan 55), C Murray (E Reddan 65); J McGrath (C Healy 61), R Best (S Cronin 61), M Ross (N White 61), I Henderson, P O’Connell (capt, D Ryan 74), P O’Mahony, S O’Brien (C Henry 63), J Heaslip.
Tries (7): O’Brien, Henderson, Sexton, D Kearney, Cronin, R Kearney, Payne. Cons: Sexton 3, Madigan 3. Pens: Sexton.
Yellow card: O’Connell (42min)
Canada: M Evans (L Underwood ht, R Thorpe 75); J Hassler (C Trainor ht), C Hearn, N Blevins, DTH van der Merwe; N Hirayama, G McRorie (P Mack 48); H Buydens (D Sears-Duru 48), R Barkwill (B Piffero 63), D Wooldridge, B Beukeboom, J Cudmore (capt), K Gilmour (J Sinclair 48), J Moonlight, A Carpenter.
Try: Van der Merwe. Con: Hirayama.
Yellow card: Cudmore (15min).
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Man of the Match: Johnny Sexton
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