Ireland, reigning as the world’s top-ranked team, displayed their dominance with an impressive bonus-point victory over a tenacious yet somewhat disorganized Tonga side.
Guided by the exceptional performance of fly-half Johnny Sexton, Andy Farrell’s squad executed a substantial portion of their game plan in the initial 40 minutes, securing four tries to establish a commanding 31-13 lead. The standout moment of the first half came from a fluid team effort culminating in a try by Sexton himself, an achievement that propelled the 38-year-old past Ronan O’Gara as Ireland’s all-time leading point scorer.
Following a series of substitutions and robust defensive efforts from Tonga’s star-studded lineup, Ireland’s momentum slowed in the second half. Nonetheless, additional tries from winger James Lowe, a second from the exceptional Bundee Aki, and a last-minute score from Rob Herring propelled the Irish past the 50-point milestone, reaffirming their status as one of the frontrunners in the tournament.
Sexton conveyed, “Our focus isn’t on personal accolades; it’s about winning the next match. Our upcoming clash against the reigning world champions is of immense significance, and all our efforts are geared towards that.”
He added, “The breakdowns were challenging to navigate. However, once we mastered that aspect of the game, we executed some outstanding tries. Playing in humid conditions like tonight can make the ball quite slippery. It’s satisfying to secure the full five points and move forward.”
Tonga’s head coach, Toutai Kefu, offered a candid assessment, stating, “To be honest, Ireland proved too formidable for us. We hope to put up a better fight in the upcoming matches.”
Ben Tameifuna, Tonga’s captain, acknowledged Ireland’s supremacy, saying, “Ireland holds the top spot in the world rankings for a reason. Many of our players experienced their first World Cup match tonight, and it provided valuable insight into the level of competition at this stage.