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Sunday 4 December 2016

Zebo applauds 'world-class' wings Earls and Bowe

Simon Zebo
Simon Zebo

Keith Earls and Tommy Bowe made their play to make Dave Kearney the odd man out for Italy next Sunday.

"The wingers were exceptional, world-class," said Simon Zebo, not exactly a stranger to the position either.

"It is very exciting times because everybody in the squad is pushing each other really hard for that starting berth.

"It is great for us, as a collective, that just everybody is really gunning to play. It's showing in our performances."

Munster flyer Earls took his World Cup try tally to seven in Ireland's routine six-try win, drawing level with Brian O'Driscoll to top Ireland's tournament record. Bowe also bagged a brace. However, it is most unlikely coach Joe Schmidt will unseat Kearney as the man in possession.

Back-three man Zebo was a foot-in-touch away from adding a remarkable try to his personal album.

He seemed to nail down his place in the 23 for Italy by claiming three assists for tries by Earls, Bowe and Rob Kearney in a game made for his special gifts.

"The forwards gave us a good platform, at times, to play on the front-foot," he said.

"Getting the ball in space and using the support is crucial and we were getting a nice few touches."

Schmidt will review Ireland's latest offering with a fine tooth comb.

Paddy Jackson's failure to stop lock Ovidiu Tonita for their late consolation try was bothersome to him.

"That was disappointing because we would have liked to have kept them scoreless," he said.

The coach went on to relay how the plethora of replacements left Ireland "dishevelled" and out-of-kilter for that raid by Romania.

Schmidt knows the real tournament starts now, against both France and, more immediately, Italy next Sunday.

"Next week is the pivotal week," Schmidt said.

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