Luke Keary stars as Ireland ease to opening World Cup win over Jamaica

Luke Keary stars as Ireland ease to opening World Cup win over Jamaica

Luke Keary proved a class apart as Ireland cruised to 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 in 10 tries with six more points from the boot of Joe Keyes adding to an early Ed Chamberlain conversion.

It proved a World Cup wake-up call for the Reggae Warriors, who nevertheless drew one of the biggest cheers from the 6,000 crowd when Kieran Rush kicked their only points of the game from a penalty after the first-half hooter.

The underdogs had started the Group C opener confidently enough, and centre Jacob Ogden was first to trouble the video referee in the 10th minute after narrowly failing to get on the end of a grubber kick.

It would prove to be one of precious few threats in the opening period from Jamaica, who were undone by a combination of brute strength and the sheer ingenuity of Keary, who starred on his long-awaited Wolfhounds debut.

Louis Senior opened Ireland’s account in the 13th minute when he surged over in the corner, and captain George King elected to go it alone for his side’s second three minutes later, ringing plenty of alarm bells about the Jamaican rearguard.

A fine interception from Alex Young, brother of new England star Dom, denied Richie Myler a try on his home ground but it was York half-back Brendan O’Hagan who barged through for Ireland’s third with 20 minutes on the clock.

Keary, ruled out of the 2017 competition through injury, inspired Ireland’s fourth try five minutes before the interval when he broke through the middle and combined swiftly with James Bentley who sent winger Chamberlain over in the corner to put his side further ahead.

Jamaica’s first points drew cheers as Rush, one of three Huddersfield Giants players in the debutants’ line-up, held his nerve to kick a penalty after Ireland were penalised for offside.

Jamaica bravely pressed at the start of the second half but their threat soon subsided, and after Keary was denied a deserved try by a timely interception from his opposite number James Woodburn-Hall, Innes Senior crossed for Ireland’s fifth.

Toby King and Louis Senior, with his second, both went over as the Jamaican resistance began to wilt, with Keyes’ second conversion stretching his side’s advantage to 34-2.

Keary and Myler could even afford a smile after the latter fumbled Keary’s clever lay-off on the left flank which would surely have added to the underdogs’ pain.

But Jamaica’s defensive deficiencies were once again laid bare seven minutes from time when alternate James McDonnell bustled his way through their back-line, dragging two Jamaicans with him as he stretched over for the eighth time for Ireland.

Bentley and Frankie Halton crossed late to wrap up a thoroughly convincing opening win for Ireland, and left the Jamaicans with plenty to ponder ahead of next weekend’s daunting clash with New Zealand.