Centurion Sexton sets up Irish rout of Japan
MATCH REPORT: Irish legend Johnny Sexton celebrated his 100th Test for his country with 16 points as Ireland routed Japan 60-5 in their one-off Test at Lansdowne Road on Saturday.
The 36-year-old flyhalf drew his second standing ovation of the day when he went over for a try early in the second half.
He converted it provoking a huge grin to spread across his face and eventually left to another standing ovation just after the hour mark.
A totally one-sided encounter also featured three tries from wing Andrew Conway and appropriately another Test centurion Cian Healy rounded off the scoring with a try in the final minute.
“Johnny Sexton drives us like no one I have ever seen,” Conway told Channel Four.
“He can be narky at times but this is a physical sport and we need that in training sessions.”
* To recap all the drama, CLICK HERE!
Sexton is the seventh Irishman to win 100 caps for his country joining the likes of compatriots Brian O’Driscoll and Paul O’Connell in reaching the milestone.
He says he never thought in a million years he would reach that figure when he made his Test debut aged 24 against Fiji in 2009.
Among the many plaudits he has received this week, Ireland head coach Andy Farrell termed him “a once in a generation player”.
The 2018 World Player of the Year’s landmark appearance was not enough of a draw to fill the stadium.
There were many empty spaces in what is the first match at Lansdowne Road where a capacity crowd has been permitted since the COVID-19 pandemic struck last year.
Farrell will be delighted he was able to pull Sexton off with half an hour to go as the Irish face a far more daunting challenge next Saturday against New Zealand.
Tries: Lowe, Conway 3, Gibson-Park, Sexton, Aki, Ringrose, Healy
Cons: Sexton 4, Carbery 2
Yellow card: Atsushi Sakate (Japan, 40 – cynical foul, offside)
Ireland: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 James Lowe, 10 Johnny Sexton (captain), 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Caelan Doris, 5 James Ryan, 4 Tadhg Beirne, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Ronan Kelleher, 1 Andrew Porter.
Replacements: 16 Dan Sheehan, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Finlay Bealham, 19 Iain Henderson, 20 Peter O’Mahony, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Joey Carbery, 23 Keith Earls.
Japan: 15 Kotaro Matsushima, 14 Dylan Riley, 13 Timothy Lafaele, 12 Ryoto Nakamura, 11 Siosaia Fifita, 10 Yu Tamura, 9 Yutaka Nagare, 8 Kazuki Himeno, 7 Pieter Labuschagne (captain), 6 Ben Gunter, 5 James Moore, 4 Jack Cornelsen, 3 Jiwon Gu, 2 Atsushi Sakate, 1 Keita Inagaki.
Replacements: 16 Yusuke Niwai, 17 Craig Millar, 18 Asaeli Ai Valu, 19 Yoshitaka Tokunaga, 20 Tevita Tatafu, 21 Naoto Saito, 22 Rikiya Matsuda, 23 Ryohei Yamanaka.
Referee: Nika Amashukeli
Assistant referees: Damon Murphy, Pierre Brousset
TMO: Eric Gauzins