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Emerging Ireland Hammer Russia In Nations Cup Opener

Emerging Ireland Hammer Russia In Nations Cup Opener

An exciting Emerging Ireland team picked up a facile bonus point win in their opening IRB Nations Cup match in Bucharest, running in ten tries despite the fact that only 45 minutes were played.


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Heavy rain and thunder and lightning forced Welsh referee Ian Davies to call a halt to proceedings early in the second half at the Stadionul National Arcul de Triumf.

Referee manager David McHugh and the host union tournament manager Lucian Lorin, in consultation with the two teams, decided to abort the match due to fears over player safety.

The 66-0 scoreline, which included an Andrew Conway hat-trick, became the final result in line with tournament rules as the persistent storm lasted around 30 minutes.

From a Russian perspective, the bad weather came at just the right time as their hooker Stanislav Selskiy was in the sin-bin and Emerging Ireland looked poised to add to their already impressive try tally over the remaining 35-plus minutes.

Coaches Dan McFarland and Neil Doak will not have learned a lot about their players given the disappointingly one-sided nature of this round 1 fixture, and the hope is that Uruguay and hosts Romania will provide sterner tests in the coming days.

This was Russia's first match under new head coach Raphael Saint-André, a brother of Philippe, and players are competing for places as the Bears are still in contention for Rugby World Cup qualification.

The Russians fielded a team boasting 511 international caps, including winger Mikhail Babaev, scrum half Alexander Ianiushkin, locks Denis Antonov and Alexander Voytov and back rowers Andrey Garbuzov and Victor Gresev who all played against Ireland at the 2011 World Cup.

But they were particularly disjointed in defence here as Emerging Ireland – wearing white jerseys, green shorts and white shocks – piled on the points with three tries in the opening 10 minutes.

Some neat interplay between Ian Keatley and Johne Murphy opened up space on the left wing and Conway passed back inside for Keatley to run in an unconverted fourth minute try in the corner.

Two minutes later, Murphy was involved again as lovely hands from the full-back released Eoin Griffin who handed off a defender and linked with lock Michael Kearney whose presence drew in two defenders and he passed for Conway to cover the remaining 25 metres to the line. Keatley converted for 12-0.

The third try was a charge-down score from Niall Annett, the young hooker managing to block Ramil Gaysin's kick on halfway and he scooped up the bouncing ball to canter away and go in behind the posts.

Gaysin pulled a long range penalty attempt wide as Russia remained scoreless and Emerging Ireland threatened once more from a Kearney lineout steal and a break from the in-form Conway.

The bonus point try looked tantalisingly close as Ulster backs Paul Marshall and Stuart McCloskey revelled in the gaps that were being exploited by the young Irish side's productive counter-attacking.

The 21-year-old McCloskey was at the heart of Ireland's fourth try as he broke from deep after a Russian knock-on and his delayed pass gave winger Conway a simple finish in the left corner.

Emerging Ireland were over again just two minutes later as scrum half Marshall profited from a ball that squirted free from a Russian ruck. He scampered out of the 22 and downfield and although he was tackled short of the line he got his pass away for the supporting Conway to complete his hat-trick.

Fellow winger Craig Gilroy got in on the scoring act soon after as he showed serious gas on an excellent arcing run from inside his own half. Ianiushkin gave pursuit but there was not catching the flying Ulsterman.

Keatley converted and also added the extras to Robin Copeland's 34th-minute try as the Munster-bound number 8 finished smartly following an initial break from Gilroy.

JJ Hanrahan was sent on for some game-time at number 10 and converted the final try of the first half. Copeland surged forward and good hands from the supporting Annett put flanker Tommy O'Donnell galloping through in the 37th minute.

Such was Emerging Ireland's command in attack, even tighthead prop Michael Bent charged forward into the Russian 22 as the Bears struggled to put up a sustained resistance.

52-0 up at half-time, another avalanche of points for Emerging Ireland looked likely as Marshall ran in the ninth try just 34 seconds into the second half. He was put through by a neat offload from Copeland and Hanrahan made it a seven-pointer.

The Kerry youngster then nailed his third successful conversion from a difficult position on the right. It came after Murphy sent Gilroy racing into the Russian 22 and he handed off the final defender to cross in the corner.

Selskiy then saw yellow for a tip tackle on Copeland but unfortunately for the Irish replacements that had been newly introduced, the weather quickly turned nasty and forced the game's premature conclusion.

McFarland's men are back in action in the Romanian capital next Wednesday afternoon when they play Uruguay (kick-off 4pm local time/2pm Irish time).

TIME LINE: 4 minutes – Emerging Ireland try: Ian Keatley – 5-0; conversion: missed by Ian Keatley – 5-0; 6 mins – Emerging Ireland try: Andrew Conway – 10-0; conversion: Ian Keatley – 12-0; 10 mins – Emerging Ireland try: Niall Annett – 17-0; conversion: Ian Keatley – 19-0; 15 mins – Russia penalty: missed by Ramil Gaysin – 19-0; 24 mins – Emerging Ireland try: Andrew Conway – 24-0; conversion: missed by Ian Keatley – 24-0; 26 mins – Emerging Ireland try: Andrew Conway – 29-0; conversion: Ian Keatley – 31-0; 28 mins – Emerging Ireland try: Craig Gilroy – 36-0; conversion: Ian Keatley – 38-0; 34 mins – Emerging Ireland try: Robin Copeland – 43-0; conversion: Ian Keatley – 45-0; 37 mins – Emerging Ireland try: Tommy O'Donnell – 50-0; conversion: JJ Hanrahan – 52-0; Half-time – Emerging Ireland 52 Russia 0; 41 mins – Emerging Ireland try: Paul Marshall – 57-0; conversion: JJ Hanrahan – 59-0; 43mins – Emerging Ireland try: Craig Gilroy – 64-0; conversion: JJ Hanrahan – 66-0; 44 mins – Russia yellow card: Stanislav Selskiy; 45 mins – Match stopped due to heavy rain/lightning; Full-time – Emerging Ireland 66 Russia 0

Referee: Ian Davies (Wales)