Ireland winger Keith Earls is tackled by Kotaro Matsushima of Japan during Saturday's Test match
IN-FORM winger Keith Earls set a new record of nine Irish tries in a season as Joe Schmidt’s side thumped Japan 50-22 in the first of two summer tests on Saturday.
Munster star Earls bagged a brace of touchdowns, to go with the two the Limerick man scored against the USA last weekend, to help Ireland record a facile victory at the Ecopa stadium, Shizuoka.
A clinical Ireland ran in seven tries in all, taking a firm grip of the game in the opening half after which the visitors led 31-3.
Ana early try from the outstanding Earls, a brace from flanker Dan Leavy on his first Test start, and a late effort from Jack Conan set Ireland on their way.
The one-way traffic continued in the second-half as Conan, Garry Ringrose and Earls added further tries.
Japan finished strongly with Fukuoka racing past the Irish cover for a late score while Nagare had the final say with a try at the death, but they were merely consolations.
Ireland face Japan in a second Test match on Saturday next, June 24, at 6.40am Irish time (Live on eir Sport)
IRELAND: Simon Zebo; Andrew Conway, Garry Ringrose, Rory Scannell, Keith Earls; Paddy Jackson, Luke McGrath; Cian Healy, Niall Scannell, John Ryan; Quinn Roux, Devin Toner; Rhys Ruddock (capt), Dan Leavy, Jack Conan. Replacements: Tiernan O’Halloran for Zebo (half-time), James Tracy for N Scannell (56 mins), Jack O’Donoghue for Leavy (57-59 mins, blood), Dave Kilcoyne for Healy (59 mins), Finlay Bealham for Ryan, Kieran Treadwell for Toner, Rory O’Loughlin for Jackson (all 62 mins), Jack O’Donoghue for Ruddock (62-70 mins, HIA), Kieran Marmion for G Ringrose (68 mins), Jack O’Donoghue for J Conan (76 mins), John Ryan for F Bealham (77 mins), Luke McGrath off (78 mins).
JAPAN: Ryuji Noguchi; Kotaro Matsushima, William Tupou, Derek Carpenter, Kenki Fukuoka; Yu Tamura, Fumiaki Tanaka; Keita Inagaki, Shota Horie, Heiichiro Ito; Kotaro Yatabe, Uwe Helu; Michael Leitch (capt), Yoshitaka Tokanuga, Amanaki Mafi. Replacements: S Ishihara for Inagaki, H Tui for Mafi (both half-time), Y Niwai for Horie, S Matsuhashi for Helu, Y Nagare for Tanaka (all 54 mins), R Matsuda for Tamura (59 mins), R Yamanaka for Carpenter (67 mins).
REFEREE: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)