Jamaica’s debut at #RLWC2021 didn’t go according to plan with Ireland scoring a comprehensive 48-2 victory in their Group C match Sunday in Headingley.
The Reggae Warriors were on the defence for virtually the entire 80 minutes and had few answers on the offensive side of the ball as the Irish ran a total of 10 tries.
“It’s an opportunity for us to come and show what we’ve got now, but it’s also an opportunity for us to learn and gather some momentum for the next World Cup as well,” Jamaican assistant coach Jermaine Coleman said afterwards.
The Irish Wolfhounds were better at completing their sets and they completely dominated the middle of the field throughout the contest.
Jamaica had a chance to get on the scoreboard first at around the 9-minute mark when centre Jacob Ogden just missed grounding the ball in the try zone on follow-through from a grubber kick. However, for the next 30 minutes, Ireland controlled proceedings to go into halftime leading 18-2.
Their four tries in the first half were scored by winger Louis Senior, prop and captain George King, interchange forward Brendan O’Hagan and centre Ed Chamberlain, who also converted one of the scores.
Ireland’s attacking platform was set up in the main by five-eighth Luke Keary, who was named Man-of-the-Match. He showed his prowess gleaned from his experience playing in the NRL with the Sydney Roosters via his runs, offloads and kicks in general play that had the Jamaicans at sixes and sevens.
After the game, he said he thought Ireland can make a dent at #RLWC2021.
“It was exciting to share the field with Jamaica in their first game in the tournament, they’ll have a good future,” Keary said. “We’re a close group and we’re going to give it our best in this tournament.”
The half ended with Jamaica being awarded a penalty, which halfback and goalkicker Kieran Rush made good on by converting from about 30 metres out.
The second forty started a little slowly, but the Wolfhounds were soon back on the front foot and wing Innes Senior finished off a movement by scoring a try out wide.
That was quickly followed by a try to Irish centre Toby King, who dotted down off a kick-through by interchange forward Harry Rushton. Halfback Joe Keyes took over the goal-kicking duties in the second half and converted that score.
The longer the match went on, the more go-forward Ireland enjoyed and the more fatigued the Jamaicans became as the tackle count was mounting up.
One of the stories of this contest was the total metres gained. The Irish piled on more than 1600 metres, compared with around 600 by Jamaica.
The Irish dominance continued with a second try to Louis Senior, who outpaced the defence down the flanks following a penalty being awarded to them. Keyes again converted to push the margin out to 32 points midway through the second half.
But it didn’t stop there. Another of Ireland’s players off the bench, James McDonnell, pushed through several Jamaican defenders to force his way over the try line before second-rower James Bentley did the same thing. Keyes converted his score.
Then with time having just about expired, Ireland went in again when forward Frankie Halton displayed some unrelenting determination to finally dot down after slipping several would-be tacklers for the final try of the game.
It was Irish coach Ged Corcoran’s debut in charge of the Wolfhounds, and he couldn’t have been happier with the end result.
“I can’t complain,” he said afterwards. “It was about building pressure points, and the more we built the more points we scored, so we’re happy with that.”
Tries: L. Senior (13), G. King (16), B. O’Hagan (20), E. Chamberlain (37), I. Senior (52), T. King (57), L. Senior (64), J. McDonnell (72), J. Bentley (77), F. Halton (80). Goals: E. Chamberlain (21), J. Keyes (59), J. Keyes (65), J. Keyes (78)
Goals: K. Rush (40)