Ireland give no quarter to Maori

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Ireland set up a World Cup quarter-final clash with England after sweeping aside the highly fancied Maori outfit at Tolka Park last night in a perfect end to their Group Four campaign.

Ireland set up a World Cup quarter-final clash with England after sweeping aside the highly fancied Maori outfit at Tolka Park last night in a perfect end to their Group Four campaign.

The home side's victory offered a life-line to Scotland, who will make it into the knockout stages - admittedly against Australia - if they can manage success against Samoa by at least two points tonight.

Mark Forster sent Ireland on their way, grabbing the opening try after blocking the Maori wing Odel Manuel's kick ahead. Forster picked up and raced down the left touchline from just inside his own half to score in the corner. Wigan's new signing Brian Carney followed Forster's lead and powered over from close range, breaking into a smile when the full-back Steve Prescott converted to give Ireland a 12-point lead at the end of the first half.

The action heated up after the restart with the Leeds prop Barrie McDermott and Maori forward Tyran Smith getting into a tangle, but the result was an Irish penalty which Prescott converted to take his World Cup tally to 30. A few minutes later, David Barnhill emphasised the Irish advantage, picking up a loose ball and forging over from 30 metres but the Maori fought back courtesy of valiant efforts from Boycie Nelson and Hare Te Rangi. Ireland's response, though, was both impressive and immediate with Bradford's Michael Withers rounding off a spell of pressure to dart over from several metres out for his second try in successive matches.

Tawera Nikau's yellow-card for a late tackle meant the visitors were forced to finish the game a man short but they made light of the numerical disadvantage, making one final surge creating an overlap that saw Wairangi Koopu grab a try which Gene Ngamu converted. But it was a case of too little too late as it was Ireland, the superior team last night, who had the last word, the crowd cheering as scrum-half Ryan Sheridan scored from close range with Prescott's conversion completing a fine victory.

Ireland: Prescott; Carney, Withers, Ricketson, Forster; Clinch, Sheridan; O'Connor, Williams, McDermott, Joynt, Barnhill, Campion. Replacements used: Bretherton, Lawless, Tallon, Southern.

Maori: Toopi; Manuell, Kohe-Love, Kidwell, Hoppe; Ngamu, H Te Rangi; Rauhihi, Perenara, Hermansson, Koopu, T Smith, Nikau. Replacements used: Moana, Nelson, Nahi, Reihana.

Referee: Bill Harrigan (Aus).

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