FUKUOKA • Ireland played with 14 men for 50 minutes but still eased into the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals with a seven-try 47-5 demolition of ragged Samoa in their final Pool A match yesterday.
Centre Bundee Aki became the seventh player to be shown a red card at the tournament when he went for a high tackle on Samoa fly-half Ulupano Seuteni in the 29th minute when Ireland were 21-5 up.
Fly-half Johnny Sexton earned the bonus point that secured their passage to the last eight with his second try just before half-time at Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium.
Skipper Rory Best, prop Tadhg Furlong, full-back Jordan Larmour, No. 8 C. J. Stander and winger Andrew Conway also crossed for the Irish.
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt said the dismissal was "devastating" for Aki, who could miss the rest of the tournament. He added: "It's a really disappointing finish to the night."
Having lost to Japan and laboured to victory over Russia after a dominant opening win over Scotland, Ireland needed to make a statement and started with a near full-strength side, boosted by centre Robbie Henshaw's return from a hamstring strain.
"After the Japan game we knew that 10 points would do and we've done that over the last two games," said Best. "I think it shows a bit about the character of a side when you go a man down.
"We're in the quarter-finals and whatever happens tomorrow happens."
It leaves Japan and Scotland in a straight shoot-out today for the other Pool A slot. If the game is cancelled because of Typhoon Hagibis, which slammed into Japan yesterday, the hosts will qualify.
The pool winners will play South Africa in the last eight while the runner-up will face champions New Zealand, whose final match against Italy was cancelled because of the typhoon.
Already-eliminated Samoa drew two yellow cards in the match and had a largely disappointing and undisciplined campaign with a solitary win over Russia.
"It was pretty tough, very tiring, they really took it to us," said Samoa skipper and try-scorer, Jack Lam. "It's been a very tough two weeks but we can still hold our heads high."
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE