Ireland made it four wins from four at the Rugby World Cup in France with a scintillating 36-14 win over Scotland on Saturday night to set up a quarterfinal date with New Zealand next weekend.
Andy Farrell's side had to avoid losing by eight points or more to secure a place in the last eight but never looked in danger of doing so in a one-sided affair at the Stade de France.
First-half tries from James Lowe, who scored after just 60 seconds, Hugo Keenan (2), and Iain Henderson gave Ireland a commanding 26-0 lead at halftime, while second-half tries from Dan Sheehan and Garry Ringrose further extended Ireland's lead.
Scotland managed to pull two tries back late on after Ireland had run their bench, but it mattered little.
Knowing that a defeat by more than out points would knock them out of the World Cup, Ireland made the perfect start when Ringrose jinked through a gap in the Scottish defense and fed Mack Hansen, who set up Lowe with an easy finish in the corner. Johnny Sexton missed the difficult conversion.
In need of a win to keep their World Cup hopes alive, Scotland responded well and dominated the following 20 minutes in a bid to get back into the game. Yet, for all their territorial dominance, the Scots could not breach a stubborn Irish defense and were rebuffed time after time.
Then came the sucker punch.
Having soaked up more than 20 minutes of Scottish pressure, Ireland scored two tries in the space of six minutes to effectively kill the game off as a contest. The first was a brilliant move off a line-out, with Keenan racing over in the corner after the ball had moved through seven pairs of hands. Sexton made no mistake with the conversion on this occasion.
Henderson then crashed over from close range six minutes later to leave a chasm between the sides after just half an hour.
Keenan scrambled over the line for his second try of the game shortly before halftime after collecting a high pass from Sexton and somehow managing to barge past several Scottish defenders. That try - Ireland's fourth- secured a try bonus point, ensuring Ireland's passage to the quarterfinals even if Scotland miraculously overturned the 26-point deficit in the second half.
Consequently, the second half was a largely forgettable affair, with Sheehan racing over in the corner early on and Farrell deciding to wrap some of his more important players in cotton wool ahead of next week's clash with New Zealand.
Sexton, Tadhg Beirne, Tadhg Furlong, Andrew Porter, and Peter O'Mahony, who made his 100th cap for Ireland on Saturday night, were all withdrawn by the 47th minute with the game already over as a contest.
Still, Ireland managed to score another try after Sexton's replacement Jack Crowley found Ringrose with a delightful crossfield kick. Ringrose made no mistake and crossed for a deserved try.
Ringrose and scrumhalf Jamison Gibson Park played as emergency wingers for almost the entirety of the second half, standing in for Lowe and Hansen who departed with head injuries.
That, coupled with the raft of substations, saw the Irish attack run out of steam in the final half-hour as the game drifted toward its inevitable conclusion.
Scotland managed to run in two tries in quick succession through Ewan Ashman and Ali Price, but the game was long over at that stage.
Ireland will now look ahead to a quarterfinal showdown with New Zealand, who humiliated the Irish at the same stage four years ago.
However, Ireland are now the number-one-ranked side in the world and will fancy their chances of finally making it past the quarterfinal stages of the World Cup.
Farrell's side have won their last 17 games stretching back to July 2022, beating New Zealand twice in that run.
There is little to choose between the two sides at present, setting up a titanic clash in Paris next Saturday.