Luke Keary proved in a class of his own as Ireland secured a comfortable 48-2 win over Rugby League World Cup debutants Jamaica at Headingley.
The Sydney Roosters half-back was integral to an impressive display from his side, who ran out of Joe Keyes’ boot with six more points in 10 tries, contributing to an early conversion from Ed Chamberlain.
It was a World Cup wake-up call for the Reggae Warriors, who nonetheless drew one of the biggest cheers from the 6,000 crowd when Kieran Rush scored their only points of the game with a first-half penalty after honking.
The underdogs got off to a great start in Group C and center Jacob Ogden was the first to cause problems for the video referee in the 10th minute after just missing a cultivator kick.
It would prove to be one of the few Jamaican threats in the opening stages to be thwarted by a combination of brute force and the sheer ingenuity of Keary, who starred in his long-awaited Wolfhounds debut.
Louis senior opened Ireland’s account in the 13th minute when he charged into the corner and captain George King settled for his side’s second place three minutes later, ringing many alarm bells about the Jamaican rearguard.
A fine interception by Alex Young, brother of New England star Dom, denied Richie Myler an attempt on his home court, but it was York half-back Brendan O’Hagan who stormed through with 20 minutes on the clock for Ireland’s third place.
Keary, ruled out of the 2017 competition through injury, inspired Ireland into their fourth try five minutes before the break when he broke through the middle and quickly combined with James Bentley, who cornered winger Chamberlain to push his side further up the field bring to.
Jamaica’s first points sparked cheers as Rush, one of three Huddersfield Giants players in the debutants’ lineup, kept his nerve to take a penalty after Ireland were penalized for offside.
Jamaica pressed valiantly early in the second half but their threat soon faded and after Keary was denied a deserved try by a timely save from his opponent James Woodburn-Hall, Innes Senior crossed for Ireland’s fifth.
Toby King and Louis Senior with his second both passed as Jamaican resistance began to wane, and Keyes’ second conversion extended his side’s lead to 34-2.
Keary and Myler could even afford a smile after the latter botched Keary’s skillful laydown down the left, which would surely have caused even more pain for the underdogs.
But Jamaica’s defensive deficits were exposed again with seven minutes to go when substitute James McDonnell pushed through the back line, dragging two Jamaicans with him as he stretched for Ireland for an eighth time.
Bentley and Frankie Halton crossed late to give Ireland a thoroughly convincing opening win, leaving the Jamaicans with plenty to think about ahead of next weekend’s daunting clash with New Zealand.
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/ireland-jamaica-sydney-roosters-huddersfield-giants-york-b2203935.html Luke Keary stars as Ireland beat Jamaica in the World Cup opener