Jonny Sexton scored a try, three conversions and a penalty as Six Nations champions Ireland routed Canada 50-7 to open their Rugby World Cup campaign.
In severe warning to pool D rivals France and Italy, Ireland were superior to Canada in every facet of the game after a tight opening quarter of an hour.
They notched up four first-half tries – and a bonus point in the pool standings – through Sean O’Brien, Iain Henderson, Sexton and David Kearney, three converted by Sexton.
Three more tries through Sean Cronin, David Kearney and Jared Payne to complete the demolition in the second half.
“We handled the ball really well and played some really good rugby,” said captain Paul O’Connell playing down Ireland’s superiority. He said the win had helped Ireland get over their World Cup “nerves”.
The first try came when Canada captain Jamie Cudmore had been yellow carded for a ruck infringement, and left the Canucks with too big a mountain to climb at 29-0 down at half-time at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.
The bonus point could be key in a pool whose winners are likely to avoid champions New Zealand in the quarter-finals.Sexton, who was man of the match, was key to everything Ireland did, playing deep in the pocket and opting to use a backrow forward as a midfield loop-around target to unleash the dangerous looking Irish backs in a series of well-oiled moves.
While complacency was not quite put to one side in the second-half, O’Connell was yellow carded and Canada knuckled down in defence before Cronin crossed for Ireland’s fifth.
Daniel van der Merwe scored a consolation try for the Canadians.
Ireland had the last word when first Rob Kearney sprinted in after a turnover and then Payne was on hand after Madigan split the tiring defence.
Canada next face Italy in Leeds, while Ireland take on Romania and the Italians before returning to Cardiff on October 11.