O'Gara praises Ireland

(Rugby News Service) Sunday 25 September 2011
O'Gara praises Ireland
Andrew Trimble crosses for one of Ireland's nine tries

ROTORUA, 25 Sept. - Ronan O'Gara hailed his unbeaten Ireland side on Sunday night after helping keep them top of Pool C with a 62-12 victory over Russia at Rotorua International Stadium.

Ireland stamped their class late in the opening half when they crossed for three quick tries to put them 36-0 up at the break.

In all, they ran in nine tries, with centre Keith Earls crossing twice, while sharp-shooting fly half O'Gara landed six conversions and a penalty before going off in the second half.

"It's a good squad to be in at the moment." O'Gara said. "We were keeping it simple. The conditions were poor, but the pitch is a great surface.

"We had good ball in hand, there were good passes and good strikes."

The Irish, who had upset the tournament second favourites Australia in their previous game, were quickly into gear and their forwards soon had the line in sight.

With a try beckoning, the Bears were caught offside right in front of the sticks, gifting O'Gara an easy three pointer to open the scoring after six minutes.

With the Russia fly half Konstantin Rachkov then sin-binned for a clinical knockdown, Ireland seized their opportunity to post two quick tries in his absence.

Looked comfortable

O'Gara's pin-point accurate kick to the right-hand in-goal area found wing Fergus McFadden and soon after they were over again, Isaac Boss doing well in the build-up to help send in flanker Sean O'Brien, who had looked menacing from the start.

O'Gara converted again and, at 17-0 up after just 15 minutes, the Pool C pacesetters looked comfortable.

Russia had their moments midway through the half when Vladimir Ostroushko took a kick that O'Gara had directed to his wing and raced 40 metres, but his pass inside went astray.

Ireland threw everything at the Bears late in the first half and were rewarded when Boss was able to ground the ball against the padding of the goalpost for their third try.

A minute later, they had their fourth, Keith Earls scoring in the corner from the restart to put the Irish 31-0 up, with O'Gara adding his fourth conversion.

And Andrew Trimble scored the fifth try right on half-time to give them ample breathing space, but OGara missed his first conversion of the night, albeit from a difficult position.

Earls superbly stepped inside his marker to cross for his second try eight minutes after the break as Russia struggled to cope with the brute force of Ireland's forwards, who were making good yardage up the middle.

Test debut

But, when the Bears finally broke through, they did it in style. From a scrum, their No.9  Alexander Yanyushkin's well-timed pass unleashed full back Vasily Artemyev, who sidestepped through for his side's first points.

Their second try, launched near the half-way mark, was finished off with dogged determination in the left-hand corner through wing Denis Simplikevich, who carried two defenders over the line to post a five-pointer on his Test debut.

Ireland finally responded in the 68th minute, a long O'Gara pass setting up full back Rob Kearney's try - his side's seventh - and it seemed to spark the green men back into life.

O'Gara slotted home his sixth conversion of the night and then went off after another top-notch effort with the boot.

Replacement Shane Jennings went over under the posts with six minutes left and the biggest man in Irish pack,Tony Buckley, had the final say when he crossed in the last minute.

RNS mj