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Ireland open rugby World Cup account with record tournament victory

Ireland boss Andy Farrell hailed the composure and togetherness of his players after the world's top ranked team launched its bid for a first World cup crown with an 82-8 annihilation of Romania on Saturday afternoon in Bordeaux.

Skipper Johnny Sexton scored 24 points - including two tries - to take him to within 10 points of overhauling Ronan O'Gara's points record.

Peter O'Mahony, Bundee Aki and Tadgh Beirne also went over twice as the European champions turned on the style to overwhelm their willing but limited opponents with 12 tries.

"There were a few errors with discipline," said Farrell after Ireland's record win at a World Cup.

"But I thought that after half-time we were very composed. We showed our intent and togetherness and our skill level was very good."

And it started so abjectly for Ireland at the Matmut Atlantique on a swelteringly hot afternoon. Hinckley Vaovasa collected one of Sexton's kicks and set up Gabriel Rupanu for the first try of the game.

Rupanu missed the conversion and within minutes Ireland were level through Jamison Gibson Park.

Sexton atoned for his blunder with a two-point conversion to give Ireland a lead they would never relinquish.


"I definitely needed a game," said Sexton who had not played competitively since March due to injuries and suspension.

"There's never a game where you are 100 per cent happy but we'll enjoy this evening, maybe watch the other matches and get ready for Tonga."

The result left thousands of Ireland supporters singing in the stands and carousing heartily as they wended their way back for further celebrations in Bordeaux city centre.

"Ireland needed to get rid of a few cobwebs and it's good to see Sexton get a run-out," said 63-year-old Terry Leonard who was at the match with his older brother, Frank, and younger sibling Michael, a former player with London Irish rugby club.

All avowed Ireland fans, they said they were wary of the quarter-final jinx that has halting Ireland sides at the stage ever since the inception of the World Cup in 1987.

Leading status, said Frank, was an aura that the team was finally beginning to embrace.

"They're professional players," added Michael. "They should be used to coping with the pressure although the quarter-final will be tough."


Assuming that Ireland reach that stage. They have been drawn in Group B with the defending champions South Africa - ranked just behind them - and Scotland who are fifth in the lists.

Progress to the last eight will likely result in a clash against either France or New Zealand from Group A.

That date with destiny, insisted Farrell, was still in the offing. "Points matter," he added. "You don't know how tight it is going to be at the end of the pool stages. It's important that we got off to a good start."

In the early afternoon game on the first full day of action at the tournament, in Group A, Italy thrashed Namibia 52-8 in Saint-Etienne and in Group C at the Stade de France, Australia beat Georgia 35-15