YOKOHAMA –Top-ranked Ireland put aside their stuttering 2019 form with a clinical 27-3 victory over their main Pool A rivals Scotland to open their World Cup campaign in convincing style in Yokohama on Sunday.
Forwards James Ryan, Rory Best and Tadhg Furlong all crossed in the first 25 minutes and winger Andrew Conway secured the bonus point with the fourth try in the second half, with a single Greig Laidlaw penalty all Scotland had to show.
There will be concern though that injury-prone flyhalf Johnny Sexton gave up kicking duties early on, and flanker Peter O'Mahony and centre Bundee Aki left early with head injuries. With the flat, unsuccessful defence of their 2018 Six Nations title still hanging over them, Ireland were desperate to get up and running quickly in Japan and did exactly that as the three early tries put them in total control.
Encouragingly for coach Joe Schmidt, the first two came from clean lineout ball, putting to bed some of the concerns over his team as well as his much-debated call to leave go-to jumper and caller Devin Toner at home. The opener on six minutes was all about the rampaging second-row pair of Iain Henderson and Ryan as Henderson's burst through the middle to set Ireland's utterly dominant pack up close to the Scottish line and it did not take long for Ryan to power his way over the line.
Ireland's second was a simpler forwards' effort with hooker Best following up another accurate throw near the Scottish line to mark his 121st test with a try.