Ireland batter brave Canada
Ireland saw off a gutsy Canada 52-21 at the Aviva Stadium but most likely failed to sway boss Joe Schmidt’s selection for the New Zealand rematch next weekend.
Ireland racked up eight tries in Dublin but laboured for nine first-half minutes with the scores locked at 14-14.
Tiernan O’Halloran claimed a brace with Keith Earls, Luke Marshall, Ultan Dillane, Kieran Marmion and James Tracy all crossing, and a penalty try completing a comfortable but sloppy victory.
Ireland changed their entire line-up from the XV that gained the historic maiden victory over the All Blacks last weekend, but a piecemeal performance denied fit-again senior men Peter O’Mahony and Sean O’Brien the chance to state a serious case for selection when New Zealand pitch up in Dublin next Saturday.
Ireland handed out eight debuts, though highly-rated Leinster centre Garry Ringrose was unable to impose his wide talents on a scrappy encounter.
Scarlets wing DTH Van der Merwe, Taylor Paris and Cornish Pirates’ Matt Evans claimed Canada’s tries in a solid showing from former Ulster boss Mark Anscombe’s side.
The visitors dragged the scores level at 14-14 for nine minutes of an underwhelming first-half from Ireland.
The hosts had ripped into the world’s 18th-ranked team from the off, setting an unsustainable pace.
Earls cantered in under zero resistance for the opening try thanks to Marmion’s blindside snipe after a driven maul.
O’Brien then knocked on with the line at his mercy after a fine wide break from Jack O’Donoghue.
Ringrose then had a try harshly chalked off for a forward pass, but Marshall spun home shortly afterwards to double Ireland’s early advantage.
Earls’ in-out double step proved the moment of the half, the Munster flyer off his wing to fine effect to bamboozle the defence and send Jackson into space. His flat, wide pass then allowed Marshall to claim his second Test score.
Ireland’s comfortable 14-0 lead then evaporated amid sloppy and at times hair-brained play.
Scarlets wing Van der Merwe raced gleefully onto Marshall’s ill-judged wide pass in Ireland’s 22, with Ringrose unable to stop him scoring.
Left wing Paris then went over from a driven maul for Canada’s second score, the visitors vindicated for punting a kickable penalty to the corner.
Gordon McRorie’s fine touchline conversion put Canada level at 14-14 and suddenly Ireland were in a dogfight.
The excellent Finlay Bealham’s cute offload then opened the door for Connacht team-mate O’Halloran to scythe Canada’s line and race home from fully halfway. Jackson’s third conversion from three attempts left Ireland 21-14 up at the break.
Boss Schmidt surely dished out a half-time rollicking, and Ireland duly upped the ante on the restart.
Ireland’s scrum twice ripped into Canada five metres out, with the second aggressive drive yielding a penalty try.
A needless neck roll penalty from debutant Billy Holland prevented any home head of steam, with Canada quickly capitalising.
Cornish Pirates full-back Evans blasted through on the left, somehow rolling O’Halloran in the tackle to claim Canada’s third try.
McRorie’s pinpoint conversion left Ireland leading just 28-21.
Dillane powered home Ireland’s fifth score in an immediate riposte however, to restore the two-try cushion on the hour.
Kieran Marmion’s tight-drive try then glossed the score, before O’Halloran bagged his second and debutant Tracy crossed to round off the night.