Ireland power past Scotland in Rugby World Cup

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YOKOHAMA, Japan — Ireland bullied Scotland again to the tune of 27-3 in the Rugby World Cup on Sunday and looked set to avoid defending champion New Zealand in the quarterfinals.

Ranked No. 1 until Monday, Ireland played like a serious World Cup title contender by dominating every category against its regular doormat, Scotland. In the last 20 Six Nations head-to-heads, Ireland has beaten Scotland 16 times.

The Irish pack ran the show in the first half with tries in the first 24 minutes to tight five forwards James Ryan, Tadhg Furlong and 37-year-old captain and hooker Rory Best. Rain arrived as forecast just before the interval, and Ireland added the bonus-point fourth try to wing Andrew Conway inside an hour.

On this performance, Ireland should win Pool A. The Irish have games to go against host Japan, Russia, and Samoa.

Scotland came to the contest with its most battle-hardened side for a World Cup match and lots of talk. It didn’t matter.

As usual, Scotland was its own worst enemy, committing 12 handling errors and eight turnovers on attack. Ireland was quick to counter.

Scotland center Duncan Taylor’s miss-pass into touch gave Ireland the lineout from which Jonathan Sexton led a surge and Ryan scored off a ruck with a helpful shove from Cian Healy. After only six minutes.

A penalty against Scotland flanker Hamish Watson was turned by Ireland into a five-meter lineout. The Irish drove it and Best, the fourth oldest man to play in a Rugby World Cup, ended up scoring on his back. That was after 13 minutes.

Then Scotland dropped a pass, center Chris Farrell hacked on, and Scotland fullback Stuart Hogg was caught behind his posts. Ireland charged from the scrum and Furlong ploughed over.

Scotland’s only points came from a rare attack it didn’t mess up. Tommy Seymour was unleashed on the right touch line, earned a penalty, and Greig Laidlaw slotted it.

The rain handicapped Scotland’s chances of a comeback, and Ireland was not in a charitable mood.

Conway, playing for the injured Keith Earls, outjumped Scotland No. 8 Ryan Wilson for an up and under, and it was snagged by fullback Jordan Larmour, playing for the injured Rob Kearney. Larmour set the ruck, and Conway beat two defenders to score in the right corner.

Ireland could afford to rest its senior players while Scotland toiled without reward, foiled by a slippery ball and stern Irish defense. The Irish missed only two tackles in the first half and eight in the match.