England spread their wings and took flight in the Rugby League World Cup as they proved far too fleet of foot for pedestrian opposition. Ireland were annihilated by six tries in the first 24 minutes, five of them shared between Ryan Hall and the new signing who will be on the opposite wing at Leeds next season, Tom Briscoe.
Between them, they largely undid the damage of last week's defeat by Australia, meaning that England need only beat Fiji in Hull next weekend to make sure of progressing to the quarter-finals.
"We hit a real purple patch in the first half when we played with some great shape and executed some nice stuff," England coach Steve McNamara said. "To nil any team is a credit to the players. We weren't as fluent in the second half when the [wet] conditions were worse but we showed a bit of grit to keep them out. It bodes well."
For Ireland, the adventure is effectively over earlier than in some recent World Cups. All that remains for them is the near certainty of another good kicking when they play Australia in Limerick.
There was another face missing for England, but McNamara was at pains to insist that the Leeds full-back, Zak Hardaker was the victim of illness, rather than the disciplinary clamp-down.
Graham's rehabilitation came via the bench, which was understandable in view of how well starting props Chris Hill and George Burgess, played against Australia last week.
The Irish coach, Mark Aston, without both Grix brothers, opted to make Warrington's strapping back-rower, Ben Currie, a candidate for the World's Biggest Stand-Off title.
The question was whether that rather ad hoc line-up could dig deep enough to maintain the record of close, competitive matches; with the exception of the holders, New Zealand's romp against France on Friday.
The way the tournament has grabbed the public imagination was reflected in the first capacity crowd for a rugby league match at the stadium and the biggest for any sporting event. They were not destined to see another World Cup's nail-biter. In only the second minute the Irish loose-forward, Tyrone McCarthy lost the ball in a tackle. There was acres of room on the flank and, rather laboriously, England worked the ball through Kevin Sinfield and Leroy Cudjoe, for Hall to score his first try.
The second also came from an Irish mistake, by Rory Kostjasyn. This time Cudjoe's work was slick, drawing his man to send Hall over.
When Cudjoe next had a chance to feed his wingman, he chose instead to take the ball the other way, giving Rangi Chase the chance to kick to the opposite wing, where Briscoe out-jumped the floundering Pat Richards to touch down.
From the re-start, Sam Tomkins ran the ball at the shell-shocked Irish and Briscoe had a quick-fire second. The benefit match for the England wingers continued with some fancy handling enabled Hall to score his third, not only winning the wingers' private race to a hat-trick, but also taking over from Tomkins as England's leading try-scorer with 17.
Brett Ferres broke the wingers' monopoly and should have had a second, but there was already a feeling that England had more than enough.
The second half was slow to ignite. Ireland were breached again after 56 minutes, through Sinfield's pin-point cross-field kick, Briscoe's leap and Kallum Watkins's touch-down, with Sinfield landing his fourth conversion. It was unselfish by Briscoe, who must have seen the words "hat-trick" flashing before his eyes. Chase completed the try-scoring, with Gareth Widdop kicking the final goal.
England Tomkins; Briscoe, Watkins, Cudjoe, Hall; Chase, Sinfield; Hill, Roby, G. Burgess, Westwood, Ferres, O'Loughlin. Substitutes used T.Burgess, Ablett, Widdop, Graham.
Ireland Mendeika; Blanch, Littler, Pewhairangi, Pat Richards; Currie, Finn; White, Kostjasyn, Hasson, Finnigan, Allen, McCarthy. Substitutes used Beswick, Ambler, Bridge, Mullally
Referee T Alibert (France).Reuse content