Category: Archive

Wood’s outbreak helps Ireland spank U.S. in rugby Cup

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Mark Jones

DUBLIN — The jury is still out on whether Ireland were good or the USA plain awful. The truth lies somewhere in between following last weekend’s rugby World Cup Pool E game at Lansdowne Road.

The U.S. Eagles certainly posed the expected physical threat, but their skill level Saturday was way below what is acceptable for such a high-profile tournament. In fact, the contest only emphasized the gulf that is widening between the fully professional countries and wannabees like America.

Although the Irish led by only 24-8 at the break and although they were held scoreless for nearly 25 minutes during the second half, the outcome was never in doubt. A disappointing crowd of barely 30,000 was growing restless until the irrepressible Keith Wood intervened in the closing stages.

Wood had already scored a first-half try, and in a delirious 7-minute burst he added three more as the Eagles visibly ran out of steam. It was appropriate that Ireland’s inspiration should equal his country’s individual try scoring record. Brian Robinson got his four back in 1991 and now Wood has joined him in the record books.

Coach Warren Gatland later explained tongue-in-cheek why he replaced Wood

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just before the final whistle. "He’d scored four and if he had scored five, he would have been completely unbearable," he said.

The hooker’s exploits lit up what had been a drab occasion. Ireland recovered from an early mistake which saw Eagles’ scrum-half Kevin Dalzell race in for a soft try to dominate the game. There seven tries in all from the winners and Gatland was satisfied with the performance.

"We were a bit rusty at times, but our scrum was very strong, our lineout was good and I’m delighted with the win," Gatland said.

His counterpart, Jack Clark, wasn’t despondent. However, he highlighted his team’s handling errors. "I’m not pleased with how reckless we were with the ball in hand, but I was pleased with the way we kept tackling until the last few minutes," he said.

Ireland now prepare for the most important game in the pool, against Australia at Lansdowne Road on Sunday, while the U.S. take on Romania on Saturday.

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