Ian Madigan kicks Ireland to victory
June 9, 2013
The Houston Test drew a record crowd in the United States
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Ian Madigan kicked Ireland to victory over the United States at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston on Saturday, the Leinster fly-half landing five penalty goals to claim an unconvincing three-point win in front of new coach Joe Schmidt. Saracens' Chris Wyles scored all of the Eagles' 12 points, but Mike Tolkin's team ran out of steam in an edgy second half as they pressed for a shock win against a callow Ireland.
Simon Zebo would have been hoping to shine to press his claims of being called into the British & Irish Lions squad in Australia, as an injury replacement for Ireland team-mate Tommy Bowe, but the Munster wing had little opportunity with ball in hand.
Ireland began well, with new cap Robbie Henshaw making two big hits early and Madigan scoring his first international points with a ninth-minute penalty after tight-head prop Mike Ross got the nudge on Shawn Pittman at scrum-time. The Eagles' front-row couldn't handle Ireland's Dave Kilcoyne, Richardt Strauss and Ross, and the visitors forced another penalty minutes later for Madigan to double his tally.
Madigan was looking sharp, and moving the ball wide, but one of his long, drifted passes caused problems for Ireland when Darren Cave was isolated and Luke Hume chipped the ball over the cover from a turnover. The ball evaded Henshaw, allowing Hume to rush towards the line until he was tackled by Ireland's other debutant, Stuart Olding. The Eagles picked and drove and Wyles got his side off the mark with a penalty after an unsuccessful cut for the line.
Ireland's lineout malfunctioned, and the tourists could not pull away after Madigan had landed his third goal. Samu Manoa, who had earlier emptied Ireland captain Peter O'Mahony with a huge tackle, broke through the cover and the scrambling defence conceded a penalty for Wyles to score.
Madigan landed another three points after another scrum penalty, but United States captain Todd Clever got the hosts on the front foot after the break - bursting through a Kilcoyne tackle early in the stanza and only an excellent turnover from Chris Henry and Peter O'Mahony saved the visitors. A Manoa mistake from a Wyles knock-on gifted Madigan the opportunity to kick another goal, and the tourists should have been further ahead more when Fergus McFadden scythed on to a pass from Isaac Boss pass only for Henshaw to spill his pass with the line at his mercy.
The United States got on top of Ireland despite losing Clever for 10 minutes, for a tip-tackle on Devin Toner, and, roared on by the boisterous crowd, Wyles closed the gap to six points after Henshaw failed to deal with a Manoa chip, then it a three-point game.after a ruck infringement. But Ireland weathered the storm as they emptied their bench and US coach Tolkin persevered with the majority of his starting XV.
Taku Ngwenya had one opportunity to show his pace in the closing stages, but replacement Felix Jones hauled him down and the American winger was penalised for holding on. Madigan missed the kick, but used up precious seconds, and Ireland wound the clock down when Toner rose highest to claim the restart and Paul Marshall cleared to touch to break local hearts.
Skipper O'Mahony offered special praise to the Ireland debutants following the game. "It is an away from home Test win and I am thrilled to bits for the boys who won their first caps that the rest of the boys got the win on such a special day," he said. "I'm thrilled to bit for them, but the overall thing is we got a win away from home, it was a tough game and we expected nothing less."
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