Andy Farrell’s men demolished Romania last week in a 12-try mauling that saw them score 82 points in the scorching heat of Bordeaux. Farrell has made just four changes to his starting XV which means another bonus point victory is expected here to set Ireland in good stead before they face World Cup holders South Africa and steadfast Scotland.
Tonga, meanwhile, have never made it out of the World Cup pool stage. They struggled in their warm-ups for this tournament and last defeated beat a top-tier side in 2016, when they edged past Italy. George Moala is suspended for this game and for the meetings with Scotland and South Africa but there are no less than four former All Blacks in their line-up after a change to World Rugby’s eligibility rules. Can they pull off a surprising win against the Irish today?
TRY! Ireland 52-16 Tonga, (Bundee Aki, 69 minutes)
Ireland are piling on the points as Tonga’s energy levels begin to dip and drop. A few powerful drives from close range, get the Tonga line to contract allowing Josh van der Flier to link up with Craig Casey.
Casey takes a hit abd passes the ball to Bundee Aki who bombs under the stick for his second try.
Mike Jones16 September 2023 21:52
TRY! Ireland 45-16 Tonga, (Bundee Aki, 63 minutes)
A strong Irish scrum brings them another penalty that Ross Byrne decides to kick for territory. From the lineout the ball is released out of the maul to James Lowe who passes it over to Byrne.
He holds it long enough to draw a tackle then flicks it to Bundee Aki. Aki has space to storm into and does so with ease before crossing the line.
Another seven points for Ireland.
Mike Jones16 September 2023 21:46
TRY! Ireland 38-16 Tonga, (James Lowe, 58 minutes)
There it is! Ireland have been hammering on the door for the duration of the second half and it’s James Lowe who forces his way over the line for Andy Farrell’s men.
Tonga’s defence is finally broken and Ireland are on their way again. Ross Byrne takes the conversion kick and pumps it over the sticks.
Mike Jones16 September 2023 21:39
Ireland 31-16 Tonga, 55 minutes
Tonga’s defence holds firm as Ireland whizz the ball along the line from right to left and back again. Siegfried Fisi’ihoi brings down the latest attacker then smothers the ball and wins his team a penalty as it isn’t released.
The pressure eases on Tonga.
Mike Jones16 September 2023 21:36
Ireland 31-16 Tonga, 52 minutes
No try! Ireland get their first points of the second half. Rob Herring is given the ball and drives at the line. He’s brought down but seemingly shuffles himself over the line.
The try is initially awarded but the video referee looks at the incident and the officials see that Herring moved after being tackled so the try is ruled out.
Mike Jones16 September 2023 21:31
Ireland 31-16 Tonga, 51 minutes
Ireland continue to play aggressively. They win a penalty and boot it into the corner. A quick lineout sees them shuffle the ball down the line but a fumble scuppers the momentum.
Tonga can’t force them back though and there’ll be a few driving runs at the line now.
Mike Jones16 September 2023 21:27
Ireland 31-16 Tonga, 47 minutes
Conor Murray pulls the ball out of the ruck and dinks a little kick in behind the Tongan line. Garry Ringrose comes flying through on the angle as the ball bobbles into the try zone but he can’t collect it and misses out on a World Cup try!
Ringrose bangs his hand into the turf in frustration. That was a huge chance but the bounce of the ball was unkind for him.
Mike Jones16 September 2023 21:23
PENALTY! Ireland 31-16 Tonga (William Havili, 43 minutes)
The first points of the second half go to Tonga after a simple penalty kick is booted over by William Havili. Ireland need to cut out the errors or else Tonga will continue to close the gap on them.
Mike Jones16 September 2023 21:19
Second half! Ireland 31-13 Tonga
Ireland get the match back underway in Nantes. They’ll be hoping to increase their lead over the Pacific Islanders to easily close out this game.
Mike Jones16 September 2023 21:18
HT Ireland 31-13 Tonga
Mike Jones16 September 2023 21:10