Ireland set up their first ever Women’s Rugby World Cup semi-final appearance following a six-try 40-5 victory over Kazakhstan in Marcoussis.
The Lynne Cantwell-led team – showing 10 changes from the New Zealand game – produced a dominant final quarter which included a penalty try and efforts from Siobhan Fleming and new caps Sharon Lynch and Vikki McGinn.
Ireland's patience was certainly tested by the determined Nomads, who only trailed 14-5 at half-time with their 40-year-old lock Svetlana Karatygina touching down.
The girls in green had book-ended a scrappy first half with tries from flanker Lynch and Tania Rosser (pictured below), who made the switch from scrum half to out-half.
Ireland's experienced bench, which included regular captain Fiona Coghlan and the likes of Nora Stapleton and Claire Molloy, made the required impact entering the closing 20 minutes.
Kazakhstan tired and could not hold the powerful Irish pack at bay – their number 8 Marianna Balashova coughed up the penalty try and a yellow card for kicking the ball out of an advancing scrum.
Moments later, openside Fleming made certain of the bonus point with one of the tries of the tournament – a storming run from her own 10-metre line that saw him outpace the cover on the right wing and score in emphatic fashion.
There was still time for Lynch to complete her brace having been set free by Stapleton and Ailis Egan's passes, while Jackie Shiels, who was a very able deputy for Niamh Briggs at full-back, teed up a deserved score for winger McGinn in injury-time.
Shiels landed five of the conversions, some of them from wide out, to seal a 35-point triumph for Ireland who will face old rivals England, the winners of Pool A, in Wednesday's semi-finals at Stade Jean Bouin (kick-off 6pm local time/5pm Irish time).
Kazakhstan endured a nervy start, a misplaced pass allowing Ireland to press from a close-in lineout and McGinn was just dispossessed as she gunned for the try-line.
Ireland's first try was not long in coming. There were five minutes on the clock when direct running and neat passing between Laura Guest and Cantwell sent Lynch in under the posts.
Shiels knocked over the conversion and while a series of Irish errors invited Kazakhstan forward, full-back Aigerym Daurembayeva miscued a penalty and winger Lyudmila Sapronova was unfortunate not to control a well-placed kick towards the right corner.
Luck was on Ireland's side again in the 21st minute when Kazakhstan were held up over the whitewash from an advancing lineout maul.
However, the reigning Asian champions kept hammering away and their pack produced a close range score for the 6ft 1in Karatygina, one of the two 40-year-olds playing at this World Cup.
Daurembayeva narrowly missed the conversion and the Nomads, coached by New Zealander Adam McDonald, continued to look dangerous past the half hour mark, thriving on some cheaply-won possession and penalties from sloppy Ireland.
Philip Doyle's charges need a spark of inspiration and they got it from Rosser, who conjured up a superb solo try four minutes before the break. She swept through the defensive line and stepped inside Daurembayeva before using her strength to reach for the line under pressure from two players.
Shiels converted to put nine points between the sides and there were further promising signs on the resumption, with McGinn countering well and number 8 Paula Fitzpatrick blocking an attempted clearance kick.
Ireland's handling and lines of attack also improved, while Gillian Bourke and regular jumper Fleming provided a solid lineout platform. Fleming and Shiels had to dovetail well in defence to halt an Anna Yakovleva-inspired break on the left wing.
The girls in green continued to make some frustrating handling errors against a dogged Kazakh defence. Reinforcements arrived in the shape of Coghlan and company, with Lynch moving to hooker in the scrum and Fitzpatrick throwing in at the lineout.
It was a vital stage of the game – right on the hour mark – and Ireland, eager to find an extra gear and seal their third Pool B win, made decent inroads through winger Hannah Casey who was seeing more of the ball out wide.
The Kazakhstan defence was suddenly under serious pressure as they just about held up an Irish scrum. Centre Balzhan Koishybayeva then received a warning for killing the ball and the decisive try came shortly afterwards as Balashova infringed and was hit with the double whammy of a seven-point concession and a yellow card.
The floodgates then opened up for Ireland as lovely passing from left to right by kick receiver Shiels, Stapleton, Grace Davitt and Casey released Fleming (pictured below) for her brilliant try-scoring burst from inside the Irish half.
Shiels missed the conversion but she was back on target in the 70th minute when adding the extras to Lynch's second try of a very warm afternoon, Stapleton's overhead pass and Egan's well-timed feed sending their Old Belvedere club-mate dashing over to the left of the posts from outside the 22.
With Pool B's top spot secured and that prized semi-final berth, Ireland built for a final crescendo. They pressed from a late scrum and centre Davitt got over the gain-line before Larissa Muldoon and Shiels gave McGinn a simple run-in on the right. An excellent conversion from Shiels (pictured below) topped off a run of 33 unanswered points.
TIME LINE: 5 minutes – Ireland try: Sharon Lynch – 5-0; conversion: Jackie Shiels – 7-0; 10 mins – Kazakhstan penalty: missed by Aigerym Daurembayeva – 7-0; 23 mins – Kazakhstan try: Svetlana Karatygina – 7-5; conversion: missed by Aigerym Daurembayeva – 7-5; 36 mins – Ireland try: Tania Rosser – 12-5; conversion: Jackie Shiels – 14-5; Half-time – Ireland 14 Kazakhstan 5; 64 mins – Ireland try: Penalty try – 19-5; conversion: Jackie Shiels – 21-5; 64 mins – Kazakhstan yellow card: Marianna Balashova; 66 mins – Ireland try: Siobhan Fleming – 26-5; conversion: missed by Jackie Shiels – 26-5; 69 mins – Ireland try: Sharon Lynch – 31-5; conversion: Jackie Shiels – 33-5; 80+3 mins – Ireland try: Vikki McGinn – 38-5; conversion: Jackie Shiels – 40-5; Full-time – Ireland 40 Kazakhstan 5
Referee: Nicky Inwood (New Zealand)