Kelly hails 'massive effort'
Andy Kelly failed to hide his delight after Ireland shocked Samoa to qualify from Pool C.
Last Updated: 05/11/08 3:22pm
Ireland coach Andy Kelly failed to hide his delight after his team pulled off the shock of the World Cup to move to within 80 minutes of a dream semi-final against Australia.
After losing to Tonga in their opening game, Kelly's men bounced back emphatically to beat Samoa by more than the required six points 34-16 at Parramatta Stadium to top Pool C on points difference.
An extremely physical Samoa threw everything they had at the Irish, however Kelly's men stood up to the challenge magnificently in front of a passionate crowd of 8,602.
"To learn the lessons of the Tonga game and to come out that little bit stronger and a little bit wiser and to apply it on the field was a massive effort from the players," said Kelly.
"If they keep on like that, the amount of pride I've got is going to bust me up. They were fantastic."
Ireland's reward is a semi-final qualifier against Fiji on the Gold Coast on Monday, with the Kangaroos lying in wait for the winners.
The Irish hero was Wigan's goalkicking winger Pat Richards, a former Parramatta player who was brought up in the western area of Sydney after his parents emigrated from Dublin.
Richards, who amassed 22 points including a hat-trick, rated the victory as a career highlight.
"It's right up there," he said. "This is very, very special, especially having my family here. I made my debut on this ground.
"We believed in each other and we've got some great players in our team. They don't really get recognised but I'm sure they will after this."
Ireland withstood an early onslaught and stunned the highly-fancied Samoans with a three-try burst in seven minutes that put them 14-0 up.
Sean Gleeson and Simon Finnigan added to Richards' first effort while Liam Finn grabbed the clinching try 10 minutes from the end.
Ireland's win would have been even more emphatic had Richards not missed five of his 10 kicks at goal and Samoa coach John Ackland had no complaints over the result.
"They were too good for us," he said. "They defended their line terrifically and all credit to them. We got what we deserved."
Samoa forward Tony Puletua, who will play for St Helens in 2009, said: "You can't take the credit away from Ireland and how good they played."