Ireland 57-14 USA: Irish second string run in eight tries in Dublin

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Hat-trick hero Andrew Conway says he 'had to grab Ireland chance' in USA game
Autumn international: Ireland v USA
Ireland: (24) 57
Tries: Conway 3, Conan, Beirne, McCloskey, Roux, Ryan Cons: Carberry 7 Pen: Carbery
USA: (14) 14
Tries: Taufete'e, Magie Cons: Magie 2

Ireland overcame a stubborn USA 57-14 to secure a clean sweep of autumn series wins for a second straight year.

Two first-half Andrew Conway tries put Ireland ahead at the break, although the Eagles stayed in touch through a Joe Taufete'e score and a penalty try.

Conway completed his hat-trick in a stop-start second half in which Tadhg Beirne, Stuart McCloskey, Quinn Roux and John Ryan also crossed the line.

The win means Ireland end 2018 having lost just once in 12 Tests.

A serious head injury to Taufete'e three minutes after the interval put a sour note on a match which failed to ignite into the physical affair that Dublin crowd experienced against Argentina and New Zealand.

The visitors enjoyed the better territory in the opening half hour, but their early efforts took their toll in the second half as they never threatened Ireland's try line.

It was a scoreline that perhaps flattered the hosts who made several uncharacteristic defensive errors but were sufficiently dominant in the scrum to control the tempo for the majority of the game.

Conway makes most of opportunity

Joe Schmidt made 14 changes to his side from last week's win over New Zealand, offering an opportunity to many of his fringe players as Ireland head towards a World Cup year.

With Jacob Stockdale and Keith Earls Schmidt's first choice on the wings, Munster's Conway pushed his claim for inclusion in future matchday squads with an eye-catching performance.

The winger had a hand in all three of Ireland's first-half tries, showing searing pace and an eye for a mismatch in the defensive line to score the opener before finishing in the corner after Will Addison's clever pass.

Conan's score just before the break came courtesy of another Conway line break as the visitors struggled to contain Ireland's lively backline.

Replacement scrum-half Luke McGrath nearly scored what would have been the try of the game late on after Conway's inventive chip and chase but the effort was pulled back for Cian Healy's earlier forward pass.

The Munster man was well deserving of his late third try and after the match acknowledged that he was intent on taking the opportunity to offer Schmidt a future selection headache.

Joe Taufete'e (right) produced several bursts for the USA before having to go off
USA hooker Joe Taufete'e (right) scored a try in a very impressive display before having to be taken off with an apparent neck injury

Uncharacteristic Irish defensive lapses

Having kept out the All Blacks, Ireland defence coach Andy Farrell will have been disappointed with the tries his side conceded in the opening quarter against the Eagles.

Worcester hooker Taufete'e was afforded time to pick himself off the ground to complete a bruising run for the visitors' first try before Iain Henderson was yellow carded for his part in collapsing the maul that resulted in the USA's penalty try.

Ireland's defence has come in for much praise and has been praised as a vital part of the team's recent success, but early penalties and missed tackles plagued the early stages of the encounter.

Tired legs cause Eagles to lose momentum

It always looked likely that the visitors would be unable to keep up their early tempo and so it proved in the second half as the hosts were able to extend their lead through complete dominance in the pack.

Beirne and Roux both rumbled over for scores either side of McCloskey opening his international try scoring account following Ross Byrne's accurate crossfield kick.

Ireland had the luxury of bringing the likes of Healy and Josh van der Flier off the bench and opted for the scrum at every opportunity as their preferred option for setting up a platform to attack.

With the job done, Ireland can now reflect on an unforgettable year in which their only defeat came in the opening June Test against Australia.

Schmidt, who is set to announce his decision on his future on Monday, will be hopeful that his side does not lose any of the momentum created in 2018 as they seek to defend their Six Nations title before thoughts turn to the World Cup in Japan.

Ireland: Addison; Conway, Ringrose, McCloskey, Sweetnam; Carbery, Cooney; Kilcoyne, Scannell, Bealham; Beirne, Henderson; Ruddock (capt), J Murphy, Conan.

Replacements: Herring for Scannell 57, Healy for Kilcoyne 61, John Ryan for Bealham 61, Roux for Henderson 57, Van der Flier for Conan 67, McGrath for Cooney 62, Byrne for Sweetnam 26, Arnold for Addison 40.

United States: Hooley; Scully (capt), Campbell, Lasike, Brache; Magie, Davies; Lamositele, Taufete'e, Mullen; Peterson, Civetta; Quill, Germishuys, Dolan.

Replacements: Fawsitt for Taufete'e 44, Wenglewski for Lamositele 55, Manoa for Peterson 68, Tameilau for Quill 69, De Haas for Davies 61, Waldren for Mullen 60

Not used: Moore, Matyas.