Ireland v Romania: Pool D – Donal Treacy
Ireland took to the field with the oldest ever team to play in a Rugby World Cup but by the end of this game yet another Rugby World Cup record would be broken. Irish and Romanian fans alike combined to produce the largest ever crowd in Rugby World Cup history numbering almost 90,000 fans at Wembley Stadium.
Ireland dominated this game throughout with the back three of Keith Earls, Simon Zebo and Tommy Bowe looking dangerous as well as substitute Rob Kearney. Despite dominance and territory Ireland found Romania’s defence a challenge at times with the Romanians also dealing well with the threat of Ireland’s rolling maul.
Devin Toner had an excellent game up front both at set piece and in the loose. However it was out wide where Ireland shone. Tommy Bowe answered his critics with a solid outing; catching his contestable kicks and taking the straightforward chances which came his way. Simon Zebo turned in a highly mature display setting up two tries and almost polishing off one himself only to be called back for a foot in touch. Man of the Match, Keith Earls, had another superb outing on the left wing scoring a brace of tries and looking dangerous every time he touched the ball.
If the Irish back three had ample chances one of the main reasons was due to the amount of box kicks by Romanian scrumhalf, Vali Calafeteanu. The number 9 box kicked away possession back to Ireland on 20 separate occasions. Although accurate with his delivery this strategy often led to Ireland having space from which to counter or indeed a lineout platform to attack from.
Both teams can now move on to what will be the key matches for their fans. Romania can learn from their outings with Ireland and France and will fancy their chances against the Canadians and possibly even the Italians. For Ireland, having essentially had another two warm up games, things become a little more real as they take on Italy and later France to decide the outcome for Pool D.