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Ireland’s rugby second-stringers stay unbeaten with win over Canada

Canada's wing DTH Van Der Merwe is tackled by Ireland's centre Garry Ringrose during the rugby union test match between Ireland and Canada in Dublin on Nov. 12, 2016.

Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images

Ireland's second-stringers upheld their unbeaten rugby record against Canada in a 52-21 win at Lansdowne Road on Saturday.

The Canadian men, ranked 18th in the world, dropped to 0-7-1 all-time against fifth-ranked Ireland.

Tiernan O'Halloran, Keith Earls, Luke Marshall, Ultan Dillane, Kieran Marmion and James Tracy also had tries for the Irish in front of a sold-out crowd that included the Irish and Canadian women's rugby teams.

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Veterans DTH van der Merwe, Taylor Paris, and Matt Evans scored tries for Canada while Gordon McRorie was successful on all three conversions. Van der Merwe moved to within three tries of tying Winston Stanley's all-time record of 24 for Canada. Captain Aaron Carpenter tied Al Charron's Canadian record of 76 caps.

Ireland swapped out the entire starting XV, which upset New Zealand last weekend, to rest them for the rematch in Dublin next weekend.

Eight Irishmen in the matchday 23 made their debuts against Canada, and there were recalls for stand-in captain Peter O'Mahony and fellow flanker Sean O'Brien after long-term injuries. It added up to a disjointed performance that took an hour to subdue Canada.

Canada had just scored its third converted try to close to 28-21 when, from the kickoff, van der Merwe spilled the catch in the tackle of opposite Earls, Ireland regathered the ball, drove to the line, and big lock Dillane went over off a ruck.

Soon after, the Irish pack earned a pushover try for scrumhalf Marmion, and Paddy Jackson's sixth conversion made it 42-21.

Ireland closed with a second try for O'Halloran from a break by Garry Ringrose, and the eighth and last try to replacement hooker Tracy on debut.

Coach Joe Schmidt was going to take a long hard look at video of the match before changing the first Ireland side to topple the All Blacks in 111 years. Video of New Zealand's 68-10 win over Italy in Rome on Saturday was also on his must-do list.

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"We anticipate they'll be very, very tough coming here, and they may have [lock] Brodie Retallick, and maybe even [lock] Sam Whitelock back," Schmidt said.

"Those early balls we got off their lineout [in Chicago] potentially won't be available to us, therefore we might not be able to dominate possession and express ourselves, therefore we might be trying to contain them. We've just got to make sure we be as good on both sides of the ball as we can be."

The longer the Irish went against Canada, the better they were.

But despite all the changes, Ireland was out of the gate fast. Marmion set up Earls for the opening try, and Ireland bombed a couple of chances before a nice backline move ended with Jackson putting Marshall in a gap to the right corner.

Canada tied the score at 14, hitting back with a Van der Merwe intercept try, and driving the other winger, Paris, over in a rolling maul.

Momentum swung back to the home side from an accidental turnover by Canada. Earls burst away then prop Finlay Bealham offloaded to O'Halloran, who was cutting back and streaked in from 45 metres out.

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Ireland began the new half with a penalty try, when Canada collapsed a pushover scrum attempt.

Then Canada came back again, catching Ireland's backs holding off. Fullback Evans managed to touch the ball down in O'Halloran's tackle.

But seconds later, the Irish scored from the restart, and the stoic Canadians couldn't recover.

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