With bonus points safely tucked away from their opening Rugby World Cup salvo against Canada and Sunday’s one-sided affair at Wembley, the task of navigating through early encounters as heavy favourites has been accomplished.
One who does get his opportunity from the starting whistle in a lineup showing 12 changes from the team that walloped Canada 50-7 is Simon Zebo, an athlete who seems forever young at 25, although he is a relative novice, still, at full-back.
The win acts as an ideal warm-up ahead of greater challenges in their next two Pool D matches against Six Nations rivals Italy and France, but Joe Schmidt’s side march to the a sixth appearance in the quarter-finals continued with another easy win.
“I don’t know if it gives us an unfair advantage; that’s something you might attach to it”, Schmidt said.
Ireland and Romania’s first ever meeting was at Lansdowne Road in November 1986.
Ian Madigan and Valentin Calafeteanu traded penalties at the start of the match, before Simon Zebo thought he had sparked a rout. But it was disallowed because he had a foot still in touch when he reclaimed the ball.
Tommy Bowe will be desperate to put his Twickenham nightmare behind him on the right wing.
Ireland’s first-choice centre partnership is RobbieHenshaw and JaredPayne.
“Cian is always an asset, whether that’s off the bench or starting”, Schmidt told reporters.
Romania fell apart and made Ireland look good.
Henry completed his hard-working afternoon with a 74th-minute try after a perfectly executed line-out maul, although Tonita replied with a consolation score two minutes from time.
Earls was particularly risky in the first half, scoring a fine try and acting as the catalyst for a wave of Irish attacks.
After Earls had successfully passed his pitchside concussion evaluation, replacement Paddy Jackson was taken out in mid-air by Florin Ionita.
Fercu is still one try from becoming Romania’s record try-scorer, having been stuck on 28 for 17 Tests stretching back more than two years.
Ireland are now staying in London for their match, with captain Heaslip observing their hotel has a balcony that overlooks Wembley Stadium. This means each game is more hard than the last, and players can focus on raising their intensity and performance levels week after week.
Cian Healy, Richardt Strauss and Nathan White are the front three with Devin Toner and Donncha Ryan in the second row.
Replacements: Cronin for Best 60 mins, C Healy for McGrath 60 mins, N White for Ross 60 mins, D Ryan for O’Connell 73 mins, C Henry for O’Brien 63 mins, E Reddan for Murray 65 mins, I Madigan for Sexton 55 mins, S Zebo for R Kearney 78 mins.