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Wednesday October 23, 2019

Flat Ireland fail to ignite in bonus-point win over Russia

Ireland recorded a bonus point win, but not in emphatic fashion

courtesy of RTE

Ireland scored five tries in a bonus-point win over Russia to go back top of Pool A but the victory was far from convincing.

Joe Schmidt’s side will now qualify for a quarter-final should they claim five match points against Samoa in nine days’ time but serious questions remain about the form of the team, who still looked shook from Saturday’s defeat to Japan.

Whether the knock-out game will be against New Zealand or South Africa depends on how Japan fare against Samoa and Scotland.

Following the Shizuoka shock Ireland will have wanted to produce a ruthless performance, but couldn’t find any rhythm despite playing against 14 men for 60 minutes of the match.

There was further concern with Jordi Murphy, who arrived to the country on Sunday as a replacement for Jack Conan, lasting just 27 minutes before departing with a rib injury, while Johnny Sexton, who was captaining the side for the first time, was replaced at half-time by Jack CartTries from Rob Kearney, Peter O’Mahony, Rhys Ruddock, Andrew Conway and Garry Ringrose meant the result was never in doubt but it was a case of stumbling into the next match in Fukuoka as opposed to banishing the demons of the loss to Japan.

Handling conditions inside the closed-roof Kobe Misaki Stadium was difficult but again could not account for the error count (23 turnovers) against the team ranked 20th in the world, who only qualified after Belgium, Spain and Romania were sanctioned for fielding ineligible players.

“If they continued to play to that level I don’t think they’ll progress past a quarter-final,” said Jamie Heaslip on RTÉ Sport’s TV coverage,

Ireland had to deal with a small disruption ahead of kick-off when Joey Carbery (above), who was due to provide scrum-half cover off the bench, was replaced by Conor Murray, with “some irritation in the ankle” cited by the IRFU as the reason.

The Athy native had injured his ankle in the warm-up game against Italy in August but did feature for 20 minutes in the loss to Japan. In the end Murray was not needed with Luke McGrath lasting the distance.

It will provide more of a complication for upcoming games than it did today given that Robbie Henshaw, who has missed all three games with a hamstring injury, and Chris Farrell (concussion) were also unavailable.

Schmidt had made 11 changes to the team beaten by Japan with Ringrose starting his third game, while Sexton returned having missed the Japan clash.

Ireland dominated territory (73%) and possession (67%) in an opening half that yielded three converted tries but also contained a number of unforced errors.

FULL MATCH DETAILS

Kearney got his fourth try in five games when he broke from halfway with just two minutes on the clock.

And the lead was doubled 11 minutes later when O’Mahony, the only forward to keep his place in the line-up, was first to Sexton’s grubber kick close to the posts.

It was the flanker’s second international try and the first since 2013 against Samoa, incidentally the first try scored in Schmidt’s tenure.

Still Ireland were not comfortable and had nine turnovers and three penalties against their name in the first half, while two high balls into the 22 from out-half Ramil Gaisin caused problems for the back three that Russia could not convert into scores.

But the Bears were racking up penalties of their own and one of the eight conceded in the first half led to a yellow card for lock Bogdan Fedotko in the 33rd minute, which was soon followed by man of the match Ruddock powering over with John Ryan in support for Ireland’s third.

The opening 20 minutes of the second half were hard to watch as Russia grew into the game and forced more handling errors and won a penalty off a scrum.

“We actually did some really good things in that 20 minutes,” said Schmidt.

“It’s just we couldn’t get anything on the back of it.”

Andrey Ostrikov was lucky not to be sent off in the 51st minute when his high clear out on Ryan was deemed just a yellow card.

The bonus point was secured in the 62nd minute after good work by Carty and Keith Earls set Conway free for a run-in from the halfway line, while Ringrose added the fifth late on following a break from Jordan Larmour.

The result will do little to assuage doubts about Ireland’s ability to trouble the All Blacks or the Springboks in a potential quarter-final and it will feel like a long run up to the final pool game against Samoa on 12 October.

“I never plan for anything too much,” Schmidt told RTÉ Sport when asked about a potential quarter-final.

“You’ve got to do some logistical planning making sure that you know where you are going but there are two very open scenarios for us and we don’t control which scenario happens,

“It’s up to Japan now and they will be very hard to knock off although Scotland are starting to build and that’ll be a huge match at the end of the pool but we don’t control that.”

“We’ve got to make sure that we get a result against Samoa.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Schmidt: World Rugby admit ref made errors in Japan loss

courtesy of RTE

 

Joe Schmidt hinted at his unhappiness with the officiating in Ireland's loss to Japan

Joe Schmidt says World Rugby have confirmed to Ireland that referee Angus Gardner got three penalty calls wrong in Ireland’s loss to Japan in Shizuoka on Saturday.

The Ireland coach had expressed concerns about Gardner before the game, citing his handling of the Wales-Ireland game in March’s Six Nations clash in Cardiff, and was quick to refer to the officiating in the aftermath of the Japan defeat.

While also paying tribute to Japan, Schmidt pointed to a number of “very tough” offside calls his team, indicating his players were frustrated in real time and saying “it’s not too dissimilar to the last time we had this referee.”

Ireland have since sought clarification on a few matters and Schmidt says they’ve received confirmation from the governing body that three of the four offside calls given against Ireland were “incorrect”.

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However, it emerged that two of those incorrect calls came from assistant referee Jerome Garces who is officiating Ireland’s third pool game against Russia on Thursday.

“We certainly learned that we’re capable. In that first 20 minutes, to be 12-3 up, I think we demonstrated that. We did put ourselves on the back foot – and partly went onto the back foot.

“We were penalised for offside four times and we’ve now got the feedback that three of those were incorrect calls. People were asking us about our discipline.

“It’s pretty hard to keep getting off the line and onto the front foot when you are getting those calls. Two of them were from an AR (assistant referee – Jerome Garces) who is going to be refereeing us on Thursday, so we know we’re going to have to be on our best behaviour.

“One thing I would say about this team is that they try to go out and deliver and, generally speaking, it’s unusual for us to have a higher penalty count than our opponents. So it’s frustrating.

“I thought Wayne [Barnes] did a super job (in Ireland v Scotland).

“I know that talking to Gregor, they (Scotland) were happy with how Wayne went in the first game as well. That’s our fault if we were on the wrong side of the penalty count there but I do think we’ve got to try to look after that as best we can.”

The Ireland coach reiterated his praise for the Japanese effort after coming back from an early deficit.

“We’ve got to make sure that we don’t become passive in a game to an opposition that are playing in front of their home crowd. You’d have to be really impressed with the way Japan got themselves back into the game.

“If it wasn’t us that lost the game, I’d say, ‘Wow, that’s fantastic for the tournament.’ Everywhere we’ve gone, the Japanese people have been incredibly excited about the game.

“They’re delighted with us, obviously, and I think loads of interest has been spiked by that.”

Shane Duffy likely to miss Ireland’s upcoming qualifiers

courtesy of RTE

 

Shane Duffy looks set to miss Ireland's October qualifiers

Shane Duffy is likely to miss Ireland’s upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers in October after incurring a calf injury in Brighton’s Carabao Cup defeat to Aston Villa last night.

The central defender left the ground in crutches last night after last night’s 3-1 home loss.

Brighton manager Graham Potter told the media this afternoon that Duffy will undergo a scan today but asserted that the Derry defender had suffered a calf injury which would leave him out of action for “a number of weeks.”

This prognosis means Duffy will surely be unavailable for Ireland’s crucial pair of away qualifiers against Georgia and Switzerland, with the game in Tbilisi just over a fortnight away (12 October) and the Geneva clash arriving three days later (15 October).

It has been an appalling 24 hours on the injury front for Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy who will this morning have been digesting the news that his other regular centre half Richard Keogh will miss the remainder of the season after sustaining a knee injury in a car crash on Tuesday evening.

With Enda Stevens already suspended for the Georgia game, McCarthy will now be without three of his regular cast of starting defenders when Ireland take on Vladimir Weiss’s side in the first of the October qualifiers.

Cyclists slam ‘dangerous’ course conditions at World Championships

courtesy of RTE

 

Heavy rain made conditions difficult in Yorkshire

Heavy rain and flooding marred the third morning of the UCI Road World Championships in Yorkshire as some riders suggested the men’s under-23 time trial should have been postponed due to “extreme” conditions.

Persistent rain around Harrogate led to torrents of water running down the roads and large pools of standing water which made riding conditions treacherous on a day which is due to see the women’s elite time trial take place in the afternoon.

Johan Price-Pejtersen is the men’s under-23 European champion and began the morning’s race as one of the favourites but he finished last after suffering a spectacular spill when came around a bend and rode directly into deep standing water which threw him from his bike.

“I think it was a bit extreme,” the Dane said. “In my opinion I think they should have cancelled it for a bit, until at least the pools (of water) had gone and the rain had stopped being so extreme.”

“Everywhere you tried to go there was, you know… you had to take the pools of water into account, you weren’t able ride the apex that you trained for, so yes, very extreme.”

Hungarian rider Attila Valter also suffered a nasty crash on a short downhill section that left him careering down the road on his backside as though riding a water slide.

The 21-year-old did not stop to speak after finishing 28th, saying only that he wanted to go to hospital for a check-up

Attila Valter is lucky to walk away from this seemingly never-ending crash during the wet U23 Men’s Individual Time Trial at the World Championships#Yorkshire2019
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Belgian rider Ilan Van Wilder told Het Laatse Nieuws: “It is super dangerous and I think it is irresponsible to let it go ahead.

“It was no longer raining, but really pouring. You take the longest route to avoid puddles, against all time trial principles.”

Asked for comment, the UCI did not directly address Van Wilder’s remarks but said it was working to ensure rider safety.

To that end, the start of the women’s time trial was delayed by 40 minutes as organisers sought to make the route safe.

“The organising committee and the county are deploying marshals to yellow flag areas with standing water and staff and vehicles are draining water on the roads to ensure riders’ safety,” a statement said.

“The UCI and Yorkshire 2019 will continue to monitor closely the events and take any appropriate decisions.”
Though Price-Pejtersen was not alone in suggesting the under-23 race should have been stopped, others disagreed.

“It was pretty dangerous, but we race outside,” said Swiss rider Marc Hirschi, who finished 13th. “The weather is part of it. It’s how it is.”

The race was won by Price-Pejtersen’s compatriot Mikkel Bjerg, who completed the 30.3km route from Ripon in a time of 40 minutes 20.42 seconds to win the event for a third consecutive year, with American Ian Garrison second 26.45 seconds down.

Ireland’s Ben Healy finished 15th of the 60-strong field, one minute and 57 seconds behind Bjerg. Michael O’Loughlin was 41st, 3:39.24 back.

Japan grind down dogged Russia

courtesy of RTE

Kotaro Matsushima (L) breaks away to score Japan's fourth try

 

 

Japan launched Asia’s first Rugby World Cup with a victory the host nation craved as they beat Russia 30-10 at Tokyo Stadium in Ireland’s Pool A.

Four years after causing the World Cup’s biggest shock by beating South Africa, Japan again took centre stage, but they were made to work hard by an unheralded Russian outfit.

FULL MATCH DETAILS HERE

Russia, making a first appearance on rugby union’s global stage since 2011, led for most of the first half following wing Kirill Golosnitskiy’s early try, but hat-trick hero Kotaro Matsushima sparked Japan into life.

The elusive wing claimed a try double before the break, then flanker Lappies Labuschagne dealt Russia a major blow by collecting an opportunist touchdown early in the second half.

And it was Matsushima who secured a bonus point when he completed his hat-trick 11 minutes from time, while fly-half Yu Tamura kicked two penalties and a conversion, with Rikiya Matsuda converting the final try.

Russia could not add to Golosnitskiy’s try, apart from Yury Kushnarov’s conversion and penalty as Japan confirmed a winning start.

Joe Schmidt’s Ireland get going on Sunday morning against Scotland.

After a colourful and vibrant opening ceremony, which included World Rugby chairman and former England captain Bill Beaumont making an official welcome, Russia dimmed the lights by scoring a fifth-minute try.

Japan full-back William Tupou made a hash of collecting a kick inside his own 22, and Golosnitskiy capitalised on his hesitancy to claim the competition’s opening try, with Kushnarev converting.

Russia, ranked 10 places below their opponents in the world rankings and coached by Welshman Lyn Jones, showed no sign of nerves as they looked to rattle Japan through some strong early ball-carrying.

Russia posed plenty of questions, but Japan found an answer seven minutes later when some slick handling among their backs produced the required result when Matsushima finished impressively.

Errors, though, continued to abound in stamina-sapping conditions that saw players from both sides regularly taking on water.

Matsushima was denied a second try when replays showed the ball slipped agonisingly from his grasp as he crossed Russia’s line, but he made amends four minutes later by breaching the opposition defence, with Tamura’s conversion giving Japan a 12-7 interval advantage.

A Tamura penalty early in the second period extended Japan’s lead, before Russia began to show signs of creaking when Labuschagne galloped clear on a 35-metre run that confirmed his team’s third try.

Kushnarev and Tamura exchanged penalties during the final quarter, with 26-year-old Matsushima then finishing as he had started with another score to confirm a memorable contribution on the competition’s opening night.

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