NEW PLYMOUTH, New Zealand // Todd Clever, the United States captain, praised his side's defensive effort on the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks as they held Ireland to a 12-point winning margin in their Rugby World Cup opener yesterday.
Led by a standout display by Clever, who tackled everything that moved, the Americans produced one of their better World Cup displays to lose 22-10.
"Just extremely proud of the guys," Clever said. "It was a big couple of weeks of preparation and we brought the physicality, which we really wanted to do, and made sure the emotions were channelled in the right direction."
Eddie O'Sullivan, the US coach who led Ireland during their woeful World Cup campaign four years ago, reserved special praise for Clever.
"He is an inspirational captain. He leads from the front and he had a massive game, and his work rate was colossal," O'Sullivan said.
Tommy Bowe, the winger, scored a try in each half for Ireland, but a series of handling errors and a wayward kicking performance prevented the Irish from capitalising on their forward domination.
Jonathan Sexton missed four efforts before Ronan O'Gara took over kicking duties.
Brian O'Driscoll, the Ireland captain, was not happy with his team's performance.
"We didn't play well, and we really had to fight for our win," O'Driscoll said. "I suppose it's job done, but we've got a lot to improve on."
@ For more RUGBY WORLD CUP visit thenational.ae/topics