It was almost given that Ireland were going to win this (Japan beating South Africa was the a big enough shock) so it was just a question of by how many points.
Irish ran the ball but a slip through the hands gave Romania’s Calafeteanu an interception, allowing the underdogs their first feel of the ball. Ireland regained possession but another interception by Valentin Poparlan caught the Irish off guard, making them chase so early on in the match. The crowd were soon given something to cheer about though when Ian Madigan kicked an easy penalty for three points. Romania were soon given the chance to even the score minutes later, with their scrum half Calafeteanu easing the ball through the posts from the wing. 3-3 at the ten minute mark, both sides were displaying their great defensive skills.
Ireland Cruise to Victory Infront of Record Crowds
Simon Zebo caught the end of a precise series of handling and used his speed to power down the edge of the pitch to touch down. However referee Craig Joubert, on viewing TMO, declared that the full-back went into touch mid run and consequently the try was disallowed, much to the disappointment of the tens of thousands of Irish fans watching at Wembley.
On the rebound of this set back, Ireland came storming back with Tommy Bowe finishing off an incredible show of pace and power by the Irish back line, going over for the try in the corner. With the scoreboard reading 13-3, Joe Schmidt looked eager for his squad to extend their lead in the remaining twenty minutes of the first half.
Romania became the victims of a savagely strong Irish rolling maul and, having experience on their side, soon enough the green army ran another cleverly placed ball through the Romanian defence for try number two. Keith Earls’ five points wasn’t embellished upon though, as Madigan’s conversion bounced off the posts, making the score 18-3. A series of scrums in the minutes leading up to half time failed to develop into anything major, but Romania managed to overturn a couple of balls to challenge Ireland further in their territory. Half time score 18-3 with both sides clearly hungry for more action.
Madigan kicked the restart to get the second half underway, and as gigantic second row Devin Toner caught and drove the ball through a crumbling Romanian huddle, the intensity mounted for Ireland. A pick up and place down for Keith Earls gave him his second try in the corner, although the gap in Romania’s defence didn’t go unnoticed – winger Apostol came back to the game too late after receiving on-field medical treatment and arrived in defensive position right at the point where Earls touched down. Looking more than disgruntled and pained at the situation, more medical attention was needed for the Romanians as Madigan’s conversion took it to 25-3.
Fresh on the field, Rob Kearney (injury replacement for Earls) made an incredible charge down five metres out of Romania’s try line to deny the trailers of any advancement up field. As Cian Healy came off for Jack McGrath, the stadium erupted for the prop who’s recent stint off injured put his World Cup hopes into doubt. A dubious in-air tackle by Romania gave Ireland a penalty and as they drove it towards the posts, centre Csaba Gal was shown a yellow card for playing the ball along the floor. One man down, the already soggy Romanian defence were punished as Tommy Bowe flew over the line for Ireland’s bonus point try. Tournament captain Paul O’Connell came on in time for his team to sprint a fifth try past their counterparts, and despite Madigan failing to dissect the posts with the awkwardly placed conversion, Ireland enjoyed a huge 37-3 lead with fifteen minutes still left on the clock. Four replacements for Romania should have replenished their tiring side, but the Ireland scrum still dominated as the game ran into it’s final ten minutes. Despite being back up to a full XV, Romania still fell short of competing with the Irish strengths as Chris Henry was driven over for his fourth international try – 42-3. As Joe Schmidt walked down to pitch side through an applauding crowd, Romania held out and pushed over for their only try in the dying minutes, scored by Ovidiu Tonita and converted by Florin Vlaicu to make it 44-10. Cheers and celebrations could be heard by the Romanian players, who took some comfort in finally scoring against the winners as the time ran down. Final score 44-10 and Earls deservedly won Man of the Match for his two tries and control of the midfield.
Ian Madigan silenced his critics by being playmaker at fly-half but it was Romania who sought most praise for competing until the end, proven by their last minute try.
A predictably one sided game in front of a World Cup record crowd (89,267), Ireland made it two from two in what seemed like a home environment, with deafening crowds backing them all the way. Ireland face Italy next Sunday whilst Romania have a little longer to wait to play against Canada, where they’ll hope to achieve a victory at last.