Ireland breeze past USA
October 2, 1999
Justin Bishop celebrates on his way to scoring for Ireland
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Keith Wood had a blinder of a match and single-handedly ensured that the USA would not win its first Rugby World Cup match since 1987. The terrific Irish hooker worked his way over for four tries as the Irish pack combined for five against an outmatched USA forward pack.
The Eagles conceded more than 50 points for the fourth match in a row as the Irish cantered to victory. Cold and quite windy conditions prevailed at Lansdowne Road. Ireland's team selection was the same which defeated Argentina in August and represented their strongest possible side. USA selections were hampered by an injury to Rob Lumkong. Jack Clark originally picked Llanelli flanker David Hodges at lock, but with Lumkong going down, Aspen's Alec Parker came in and Hodges was moved back to flanker.
Ireland immediately applied the pressure and they were able to keep play in the Eagle's half. It resulted in a penalty and fly-half David Humphreys made no mistake. A mild surprise was that on the restart Eagle winger Vaei Anitoni instead of the customary Mark Williams kicked off. Ireland kept the ball in the American half and eventually they worked quickly off a lineout for right winger Justin Bishop to touch down for the games' first try after only six minutes. David Humphreys converted.
One of the only two gifts extended to the USA came in the ninth minute when loose play just inside the Ireland half saw a knock forward land square in the arms of Eagle scrum-half Kevin Dalzell who raced 35 meters to score.
Ireland made amends for the indiscretion by hitting back from Eagle center Tomasi Takau's knock-on and Irish centre Brian O'Driscoll touched down between the posts, Humphreys converting.
Ireland continued to punish Eagle ball handling and lineout troubles to keep most of the possession but eventually conceded a penalty which Dalzell duly kicked on the 25 minute mark. But that was to be the Americans last joy. From then on their attacking threat was more or less over as four minutes later the Keith Wood show started.
After a big rolling maul drove the ball deep into Eagle territory, Wood worked off a quick lineout to cross for his first.
Four minutes after half-time, the Irish forwards kept the pressure on and multiple phases eventually saw French referee, Joel Dume, award a penalty try to Ireland. The USA has now conceded a penalty try in three of their last four matches.
After flyhalf Humphreys slotted another penalty when Eagle captain Dan Lyle was shown a yellow card for killing the ball, Wood scored his second try from a scrum. Eric Elwood, who had come on for Humphreys, kicked the conversion. Wood got his hat-trick only six minutes later and then finished off the night with his fourth.
This began with him chasing his own kick back into USA territory. Replacement flanker Fafita M'ounga fluffed the ball into touch, the Irish got the ball out to Elwood who chipped into the corner of the in-goal for the person standing out on the wing - that man Wood. Marked by Tom Billups, his opposite number, he deftly raced around and touched the ball down to complete his evening.
Wood left the field to a loud roar to be replaced by Ross Nesdale. His try made the final score 53-8. The match ended up with Ireland using their entire bench and a couple of fights breaking out on the pitch. After one set of fisticuffs, two more yellow cards were shown, one to Irish lock Paddy Johns and the other his opposite Luke Gross.