Hat-trick hero Conway gives Ireland impressive victory over USA

Andrew Conway scores a try 24/11/2018
Andrew Conway’s hat-trick capped off a perfect end to their Autumn Internationals as they put eight scores past the USA at the Aviva.

Andrew Conway’s hat-trick capped off a perfect end to their Autumn Internationals as they put eight scores past the USA at the Aviva.

Conway was central to everything positive going forward, with Jack Conan also crossing in the first half.

The USA put up a valiant fight in the opening 40 minutes, with Joe Taufete’e dotting down and a penalty try awarded to the visitors.

But 33 unanswered points through Tadhg Beirne, Stuart McCloskey, Quinn Roux, and John Ryan, along with the boot of Joey Carbery, meant Ireland ran away with it to make it a clean sweep of four autumn victories.

Ireland made the perfect start, with Conway splitting the defence to touch down only two minutes in after Rhys Ruddock made a searing break, and Carbery added the extras.

USA responded well as a clever line-out set piece five metres out put Taufete’e in space to nip in, with Will Magie converting to level the score.

As the only player retained from the incredible victory over New Zealand, Garry Ringrose burst into America’s 22, before some lightning fast hands and an out-the-back pop from Will Addison gave Conway a walk-in for his second.

With a powerful scrum USA drove Ireland all the way to their own try line and was only stopped by Iain Henderson bringing the maul down, for which the visitors were awarded a penalty try and the Ireland lock was sent to the sin bin.

Again it was Conway at the heart of a classy attack, slicing through with a crash ball and giving Conan an easy run-in under the posts.

The Irish continued the second half where they left off before the break, with John Cooney setting up Beirne to muscle over from close range, and Carbery was on hand to increase the lead to 31-14 with the extras.

The onslaught continued as Ross Byrne made a break was pulled down close to the line, then a few phases later put an inch-perfect chip into the corner for McCloskey to pick from the air and crash down.

Roux put the score above 40 with a strong dive from close range under the posts, putting the game to bed with a quarter of an hour remaining.

Conway completed his hat-trick in the final five minutes, as Ringrose made an incisive break and stepped the final two defenders to pop it to the supporting winger for an easy dot-down, and Ryan crashed over in the final minute to push past the 50-point mark.

What they said

Ireland centre Garry Ringrose said: “With the players they have it was never going to be easy by any stretch of the imagination. I think the scoreboard was a bit flattering towards us and it was actually a really tough, tight game.

“If the bounce of the ball had gone a different way the score could have been very different.

“It was good, there was a couple of new combinations out there, we had to stick to our guns and reacting to conceding a try or two was a really good learning curve.

“Preparing for each game is much the same each week, you analyse the opposition and how they play the game, there’s still the same set of standards for everyone in the group. Even from four weeks ago when we started this right to the end, so it was about upholding those standards right to the finish and making it a successful autumn.”

Player watch – Andrew Conway

It was hard to ignore the constant threat that Conway provided not just on the wing but through the middle, in fact whenever he got his hands on the ball.

Not only did he score three himself, but he set up Conan after a taking a perfect line through the middle with a crash ball, then set up Luke McGrath with a delightful chip over the top which he collected himself and laid off to the scrum-half, despite the try being disallowed.

The winger made 107 metres through 12 carries, but it was his hunger for the ball and work-rate that made him the stand-out.

Crucially, Conway made four turnovers as well to keep Ireland in possession and quash any counter attacks, making his performance the perfect all-round display.

Key moment

Having scored a clever try from a line-out and forced a penalty try with a powerful drive, the USA were right in the game after 25 minutes and the match was hanging in the balance.

But composure on the tee from Carbery to add a penalty and control the game from that point onward made the difference.

The fly-half gave a brilliant pop to Conway to set up a break for a try just five minutes later, which he converted to increase the gap to 10 points in quick succession.

That gave the Irish the cushion they needed at half time and the foundations to push on and play free-flowing rugby in the second half.

Stats watch

– Ireland had 68% of the possession and 71% of the territory on the second half, showing just how dominant they were as they upped the tempo in search of a solid victory to seal their autumn series.

– The hosts beat 30 defenders overall, compared to USA’s 6, proving how lethal their attack was when they had the ball in hand.

– USA made more than double the amount of tackles that Ireland made, with 217 completed to Ireland’s 94, displaying how hard they were made to work in defence and how relentless the Irish attack was.