Ireland hammered Russia 62-12 in a decidedly one-sided contest in Rotorua.
Russia offered little to trouble the Irish on attack, and, outside of a spirited 10-minute period in the first half, were sliced open with consummate ease, conceding nine tries.
Their challenge was further undermined when they lost a player to the sin bin in the 10th minute, and Ireland capitalised immediately, Ronan O’Gara’s cross-kick to Fergus McFadden setting up the first of five first half tries. Ireland led 36-0 at the break, Sean O’Brien, Isaac Boss, Keith Earls and Andrew Trimble joining McFadden in crossing the whitewash.
Ireland made a string of changes for this match and that reflected in a lack of synergy, particularly in their back division. Certainly there were moments that impressed, but those usually featured individual brilliance rather than structured and cohesive play. Russia’s charitable defence encouraged such individuality, and while the scoreline reflects an emphatic victory, the Irish coaching staff won’t be pleased with the lack of composure their players exhibited for large passages of play.
Ireland were guilty of a defensive lapses that gifted their opponents two second half tries in eight minutes, but they shook themselves out of their lethargy to score through Robert Kearney and Shane Jennings to kill Russia’s spirit.