"I don't think anyone in the group doubted Johnny for one second" - Sexton creates history as Ireland thrash Romaina

Ireland were relentless against Romania in Bordeaux
©Photo by Adam Pretty - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images

A World Cup campaign full of promise for Ireland saw them open their account with a 12-try win, as skipper Johnny Sexton became his side's all-time record points scorer in the history of the competition.

Despite soaring temperatures of up to 35 degrees in Bordeaux, Andy Farrell's Grand Slam winners were caught cold after just two minutes as Gabriel Rupanu's neat finish stunned those in green.

However, an instant response through Jamison Gibson-Park was swiftly followed by a lovely score from Hugo Keenan as Ireland looked to be settling into their stride.

Tadhg Beirne followed suit as Ireland raced to their third try, but despite penning Romania in for almost the entirety of the half, Farrell's troops had to wait until five minutes before the interval for their bonus-point score, with the sharp and eye-catching Bundee Aki surging over.

At this point, Romania had been reduced to 14 men after Marius Simionescu was yellowed carded but they couldn't halt Ireland going over again on the stroke of half-time as Sexton - returning from a groin injury as well as a three-game ban - dotted down.

In the opening stages of the second half, Rob Herring and Peter O'Mahony extended Ireland's lead further before Sexton and the aforementioned O'Mahony - as well as Aki and Beirne - grabbed another with Joe McCarthy also going over.

Considering the running theme all week had been about how focused Farrell's men were for this opener against the side ranked 19th in the world, perhaps we expected Ireland to fly out of the blocks in Bordeaux.

But instead it was Romania who charged over first, with Rupanu leaving Andrew Porter for dead after linking up well with half-back partner Hinckley Vaovasa out wide.

The small pockets of Romanian cheers were easy to hear, even more so given the large amount of empty seats that were dotted around the stadium as swathes of Ireland supporters were having trouble entering the ground despite arriving in plenty of time.

This after France's sports minister Amelie Oudea-Castera had hinted at better organisation for the Rugby World Cup following the Champions League final fiasco last year...

But those frustrated Ireland fans were hopefully in their seats for Gibson-Park's immediate response, with Sexton pulling the strings before Aki and Garry Ringrose combined to send the scrum-half over.

Ireland's second was a thing of beauty. Slick hands and multi-phase play led to Keenan crossing the whitewash with Sexton and Ringrose popping up along the way.

Their third all began with a clever kick down the right from the boot of James Lowe and ended with the Leinster winger assisting Beirne who flopped over in the corner.

At this point, it looked as though Romania were just going to be chasing around the dancing shadows of Ireland but perhaps frustration started to creep in for Farrell's side as they went in search of try number four.

One or two handling errors and inaccuracies halted their momentum as Ireland looked to sizzle in the Bordeaux sunshine but instead it was a well-executed first-phase move which saw the impressive Aki gallop over for the bonus-point.

Whilst the centre was certainly one of the standouts in the first period, Sexton may well have been in the running as after orchestrating much of Ireland's good play, the fly-half dived under the sticks for try number five.

Back to business as usual for a slick and precise Ireland...

If Romania's fitness levels hadn't been tested enough in the first period, Ireland weren't going to take their foot off the pedal with Herring cashing in from a 5m tap penalty at the start of the second half before O'Mahony sniffed out the try-line following some more lovely hands from Farrell's charges.

Romania tried their best to stem the Ireland tide in the immense heat, but Sexton grabbed his second before leaving the field to a standing ovation from his adoring fans just after the hour.

A 24-point haul for the skipper and history, as the 38-year-old became Ireland's all-time points scorer in the World Cup. He will be invaluable for Farrell if they are to go all the way in France.

McCarthy then got in on the act as Ireland continued to rack up the scores with Player of the Match O'Mahony, Aki and Beirne rounding things off for a relentless and creative ireland.

Speaking exclusively to TRU, Ireland centre Garry Ringrose said: "Really happy with the start. It feels like it was a long build-up so to finally get here and get the result we were looking for, we are very happy with that. 

"We found it [the heat] really tough. Huge challenge right from the warm-up all the way through. It never got any easier. I don't know what temperatures it was out there but it felt a bit hotter than that! It was a matter of physically taking it in our stride and then mentally, trying to stay concentrated as much as possible.

"I think we did that for large parts of it. There is always, in respective of the scoreline win or lose, there is always learnings to come away from the game and I think we got a few of them today. In this instance, it was starting accurately. I suppose you have got to be accurate every minute of the game. We got a hard lesson in the first two minutes but we regrouped and went back to the drawing board after.

On Sexton: "It is amazing. I dont think anyone in the group doubted him [Johnny] for one second that he wasn't going to hit the ground running and he proved that and to everyone else today. He leads with actions. He leads from the front and it was great to have him back."


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