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Ireland opens #RWC2023 with 12-try romp

MATCH REPORT: Ireland made a big statement, beating Romania 82-8 at Stade de Bordeaux on Saturday.

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The Six Nations Grand Slam winners shook off their nervy start and showed their superiority over Romania with a clinical performance in Bordeaux.

The No.1 ranked team outscored Romania 12 tries to one in the opening match of Pool B,  which includes South Africa and Scotland.

Stepping onto the pitch for the first time in six months, captain Johnny Sexton celebrated his return with two tries and seven successful conversions.

Sexton’s 24 points took him to 102 points and surpassed his predecessor flyhalf Ronan O’Gara as Ireland’s record World Cup scorer.

Bundee Aki, Tadhg Beirne and Peter O’Mahony were the other Irish stars, who each managed to score a brace of tries.

Romania responded with a try and penalty courtesy of scrumhalf Gabriel Rupanu.

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The victory margin in Bordeaux was the largest ever for the Irish at the sport’s quadrennial showpiece, eclipsing the 64-7 humbling of Namibia in 2003.

Romania stunned the Irish in the third minute when Tevita Manumua picked off Sexton’s grubber and ran past the labouring Irish flyhalf before passing inside to Gabriel Rupanu to touch down under the posts.

Rupanu then missed a simple conversion.

The Irish held an urgent huddle and responded in style.

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Sexton started the move involving Bundee Aki and Garry Ringrose before Jamison Gibson-Park raced over to touch down.

The Irish stretched their lead in the 13th minute when Hugo Keenan went over under the posts after spinning acrobatically as he was tackled to touch down.

Sexton converted both.

The early Romanian promise faded as Ireland upped a gear and Tadhg Beirne went over in the left-hand corner.

Sexton missed the conversion but the Irish had laid the foundations for a comfortable win.

Rupanu slotted over a penalty but the Irish were now in full flow, producing some wonderful fluent passing moves.

Veteran wing Keith Earls popped up on the left after drifting over from his right-wing but dropped the ball just short of the line.

The Romanians’ uphill task was made even tougher just after the half-hour mark as Georgian referee Nika Amashukeli sent fullback Marius Simionescu to the sin bin.

Shortly afterwards the impressive Aki fashioned a try for himself.

The imposing New Zealand-born centre ran at the Romanian defence and with one hand-off bulldozed over the line to ensure the Irish had the bonus point secured before half-time.

Sexton, 38, converted from the left touchline and then scored his first try.

He had to have some medical attention on his wrist following a blow from Fonovai Tangimana’s knee.

He knocked over another conversion as Ireland reached half-time leading 33-8.

Record haul

Sexton was on hand to convert Ireland’s first try of the second half, hooker Rob Herring going over on his own from a tap penalty.

Peter O’Mahony was the next to go over – Sexton converting to pass O’Gara’s previous Irish World Cup points record of 93.

Sexton crowned his return as he went over for his second try, converting it to boot.

He departed soon afterwards to ringing applause — stony-faced he applauded the crowd back.

The Irish did not let up with Joe McCarthy going over whilst O’Mahony, Beirne and Aki scored their second tries of the mismatch.

Man of the match: There were a lot of positives for the Irish side. Johnny Sexton was impressive at flyhalf, while  James Lowe and Peter O’Mahony also deserve a mention. However, our nod goes to Ireland’sBundee Aki. The centre not only scored a brace but tops the charts for most carries (15), most linebreaks (5), and an absolute beast on the attack.

The scorers:

For Ireland:
Tries: Gibson-Park, Keenan, Beirne 2, Aki 2, Sexton 2, Herring, O’Mahony 2, McCarthy
Cons: Sexton 7, Crowley 4

For Romania:
Try: Rupanu
Pen: Rupanu

Yellow card: Marius Simionescu (Romania,31 – foul play)

Teams:

Ireland: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Keith Earls, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 James Lowe, 10 Johnny Sexton (captain), 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Caelan Doris, 7 Peter O’Mahony, 6 Tadhg Beirne, 5 James Ryan, 4 Joe McCarthy, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Andrew Porter.
Replacements: 16 Ronan Kelleher, 17 Jeremy Loughman, 18 Tom O’Toole, 19 Iain Henderson, 20 Josh van der Flier, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Jack Crowley, 23 Mack Hansen.

Romania: 15 Marius Simionescu, 14 Nicolas Onutu, 13 Fonovai Tangimana, 12 Jason Tomane, 11 Tevita Manumua, 10 Hinckley Vaovasa, 9 Gabriel Rupanu, 8 Cristian Chirica (captain), 7 Vlad Neculau, 6 Florian Rosu, 5 Stefan Iancu, 4 Adrian Motoc, 3 Alexandru Gordas, 2 Ovidiu Cojocaru, 1 Iulian Hartig.
Replacements: 16 Florin Bardasu, 17 Alexandru Savin, 18 Gheorghe Gajion, 19 Marius Iftimiciuc, 20 Dragos Ser, 21 Alin Conache, 22 Tudor Boldor, 23 Taylor Gontineac.

Referee: Nika Amashukeli (Georgia)
Assistant Referees: Wayne Barnes (England), Andrea Piardi (Italy)
TMO: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)

*Additional source: AFP

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