Mon, Sep 26, 2011 - Page 20 News List

RUGBY WORLD CUP: Ireland top Russia, close in on quarter-final berth

SMALL CONSOLATION:Russia crossed the try line twice in the second half, but the game was already well out of hand after a dominating first-half performance by Ireland

Reuters, ROTORUA, NEW ZEALAND

Ireland’s Keith Earls, right, fends off Russia’s Artem Fatakhov during their Pool C World Cup match at Rotorua International Stadium in Rotorua, New Zealand, yesterday.

Photo: Reuters

Keith Earls grabbed a brace as Ireland ran in nine tries to beat a spirited Russia side 62-12 yesterday and remain firmly on track to top Pool C and claim a place in the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals.

Maintaining the momentum from their upset victory over Australia last week, Ireland secured a bonus point with three tries in three minutes at the end of the second half against a Russia team playing their third game in 11 days.

Center Earls crossed for his second try eight minutes into the second half to help ensure Ireland would go into their final Pool C game against Italy next weekend with three wins from three games.

Experienced flyhalf Ronan O’Gara was outstanding for Ireland, kicking seven from eight with the boot and marshaling a back line which had been overhauled from last week’s Eden Park triumph.

Russia, who have now lost all three matches on their World Cup debut, battled manfully to stem the green tide and got reward for their efforts with second-half tries from fullback Vasily Artemyev and winger Denis Simplikevich.

O’Gara had already converted a penalty when his opposite number Konstantin Rachkov was sin-binned in the eighth minute for a deliberate knock on.

Ireland took full advantage of their numerical superiority and winger McFadden slid across the wet turf to gather O’Gara’s cross-kick in the 10th minute, before flanker Sean O’Brien crashed through the defense for a second try three minutes later.

The Ireland attack then stalled and spirited Russia carved out a few chances of their own, but the three-try blitz at the end of the half ended the match as a contest.

New Zealand-born scrumhalf Isaac Boss inched over from close range for the first, winger Andrew Trimble’s break put Earls in for the second and Trimble added the third himself on the stroke of halftime.

Earls carved his way through the defense to cross for his second eight minutes into the second half and when O’Gara kicked his fifth conversion, Ireland were leading 43-0.

Russia finally got some reward two minutes later when fullback Vasily Artemyev scythed through the Ireland defense to touch down.

The noisy Russian element in the largely green-clad crowd of 25,000 were back on their feet nine minutes later when winger Denis Simplikevich bulldozed his way across the try line in the corner.

However, Ireland hammered home their superiority with tries in the final 15 minutes from Rob Kearney, replacement flanker Shane Jennings and prop Tony Buckley.

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