When they last met, in June 2013, in front of 20,000 in Toronto, Ireland eased to a 40-14 victory.
There is no doubt about what the big headline will be after the first weekend of the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
“The next game against Romania we will aim to do something that suits (us against) their game”. He said the win had helped Ireland get over their World Cup “nerves”. The crowning glory was his 28th-minute try in which he took an inside pass and showed a turn of pace down the left to ground in the corner.
Byrne concedes it’s hard to look beyond reigning champions New Zealand when picking out favourites for this year’s tournament but Ireland’s confidence will have been boosted by running the All Blacks close at the end of 2013.
Ireland leaked its try after Van Der Merwe blocked Payne’s kick-through and sprinted from just inside his own half.
Here’s where the class of Ireland compared to that of Canada.
They were forced to soak up that bit of pressure when Paul O’Connell was harshly sin-binned, but it was a great plus to see the resolve and fight that Ireland put in when things weren’t going their way.
The bonus point was secured by half-time and such was Ireland’s dominance of proceedings on the scoreboard, the second-half resembled one of the summer warm-up Tests we were so keen to move beyond. It was only due to a few little errors and some lost focus that Ireland did not score during that time.
Three more tries through Sean Cronin, David Kearney and Jared Payne to complete the demolition in the second half.
Van der Merwe and Carpenter are playing in their third World Cup. Luke’s a very different player and certainly he can play centre, but 12 wouldn’t be his most natural position. Nathan Hirayama added the conversion and Canada averted a shutout. Keith Earle made a nice run and set up Rob Kearney for another score.
However, they huffed and puffed and eventually had the all-important fifth try as Sean Cronin scrambled over under the posts on 66 minutes and Ian Madigan converted. A late surge for another try ended with a pass out of bounds.
“They deserved to win”. Sexton was back to his brilliant best and although he was very wayward with one of his attempts at goal, his ability to find touch from all kinds of angles and areas provided Ireland with the platform they needed to overcome the Canadians.
“We don’t have the luxury of having 30 superstars, like some of the professional outfits do, so it’s really important that we work together and try to achieve what we are hoping to”, he said. It’ll all come down to the final match vs. France, October 11 at Millenium Stadium, to settle the Pool D victor .
Ireland meet the Romanians in eight days at Wembley Stadium but will first head to the English Midlands to train at St George’s Park, the English football team’s training base in Burton On Trent.