Monday 11 December 2017

Ireland where they want to be

Bowe back to his best as he makes it 30 tries

Rob Kearney shows what it means to score a try at Wembley
Rob Kearney shows what it means to score a try at Wembley
Keith Earls powers over for one of his tries

Jamie Heaslip was "humbled" to lead Ireland to their second bonus-point win, this time 44-10 over Romania in front of a World Cup record attendance of 89,267 at Wembley Stadium.

It was good enough to take the Irish one point ahead of France in Pool D.

"From last week to this week, the support has been amazing," said Heaslip. "To have this 90,000 seater stadium filled out with Irish people has been a pretty humbling experience.

"We hope this sea of green keeps flooding in."

Ireland's oldest World Cup team of all time showed their experience belied their age with a high-tempo performance. The first chance came about through Richardt Strauss's poach over centre Paula Kinikinilau, Ian Madigan striking an eighth minute penalty.

Eoin Reddan invited Romania into the game by landing the ball out on the full for scrum-half Valentin Calafeteanu to square it in the eleventh minute. Then, Simon Zebo produced one of those special moments, his foot-in-touch ruling out a wonder try.

Ireland were impressive in their ball retention. This was all part of a ploy to wear down the Romanians.


Madigan whacked a penalty to recover the lead and Keith Earls' fine fielding of Reddan's box kick was the key to Tommy Bowe's clinical finish in resisting the impact from Ionut Botezatu to move alongside Denis Hickie as Ireland's second-highest try scorer.

The out-half drew the penalty in from the right touchline to make it 13-3 in the 21st minute.

There was rhythm and relentless energy about Ireland early on.

The fizz on Zebo's right-to-left pass gave Earls enough acreage to beat Kinikinilau into the corner for five more points in the 28th minute.

The creep up of small mistakes and the strong kicking out of defence by Calafeteanu meant it stayed that way to the break.

The second period got underway with Madigan's 'immaculate conception' of the restart and Devin Toner's spectacular overhead take and gallop which was ruined by Chris Henry's neck-high clean out.

Jordi Murphy's textbook work to pick Kinikinilau's pocket on the floor was added to by Cian Healy's tremendous long kick which forced wing Adrian Apostol to hand Ireland an attacking lineout.

When Toner gathered it in, Reddan peeled away left for a gently angled grubber to be picked up and placed down by Earls for his second try.

The Limerick man was soon snapping into Apostol's ankles to snuff out danger. Strauss plucked out a second turnover. Payne followed suit. Earls was temporarily replaced due to injury.

The Irish maul was encountering stern resistance. The closest they came to cracking the bonus point was from Darren Cave's surge through the middle, centre Csaba Gal seeing yellow for his cynical side-entry into the ruck.

The temptation was there to power-up the scrum. Instead, they moved the ball left. Reddan's loop around Paddy Jackson held the defence for Bowe to get outside Botezatu and move past Hickie for his 30th international try.

Madigan sliced the posts from the right touchline for 32-3 in the 62nd minute. The arrival of Paul O'Connell was designed to lift the intensity. It happened immediately.

An exchange between Madigan and Cave freed up Zebo down the left. He found Rob Kearney in support for the fifth try. Cave slipped away from a tackle. Calafeteanu killed the ball. O'Connell pointed to the corner.

Seán Cronin located Jordi Murphy to the rear of the lineout and Henry was the man in the van for his fourth international try for Madigan's extras to take Ireland out to 44-3 in the 75th minute. Romania got for reward for their work. Their lineout clicked and Jackson was over-powered by lock Ovidiu Tonita at the posts for replacement Florin Vlaicu to convert.

IRELAND: S Zebo; T Bowe, J Payne (P Jackson 58), D Cave, K Earls (R Kearney 49-56 HIA, 64) (C Murray 71); I Madigan, E Reddan; C Healy (J McGrath 54), R Strauss (S Cronin 60), N White (T Furlong 64); D Ryan (P O'Connell 64), D Toner; J Murphy, C Henry, J Heaslip (capt) (S O'Brien 60).

ROMANIA: C Fercu; A Apostol (F Ionita 54), P Kinikinilau, C Gal, I Botezatu; M Wiringi (F Vlaicu 67), V Calafeteanu (F Surugiu 67); A Ursache (M Lazar 67), A Radoi (O Turashvili 56), P Ion (A Tarus 54); V Poparlan, O Tonita; V Lucaci (J van Heerden 60), M Macovei (capt) (S Burcea 68), D Carpo.

Referee: C Joubert (South Africa)

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