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?
Ireland 3-3 Tonga, 18 minutes
No try! Ireland thought they were in. A kick is up the pitch is spilled by the Tonga full-back before Mack Hansen scoops up the ball. He doesn’t collect it cleanly though and knocks on himself before continuing the move.
The Irish work it over to the right and score but their joy is shortlived as Hansen’s knock on is flagged immediately. Scrum to Ireland for Tonga’s initial knock on.
Mike Jones16 September 2023 20:26
PENALTY! Ireland 3-3 Tonga, (William Havili, 16 minutes)
Tonga are going to kick for goal from a long, long way out to try and draw this match level. Fly-half, William Havili, is the chosen kicker and he bombs it right between the sticks.
Wonderful kick. There’s a game on now in Nantes.
Mike Jones16 September 2023 20:23
Ireland 3-0 Tonga, 13 minutes
Ireland work their way over to the left side of the pitch and give the ball to Johnny Sexton. He releases the ball to James Lowe on the left wing but he’s stopped in his tracks.
There aren’t enough Irish bodies around to get into the ruck and Tonga take control of the ball before winning themselves another penalty.
Mike Jones16 September 2023 20:19
Ireland 3-0 Tonga, 9 minutes
A solid run from Salesi Piutau sees him stopped in his track by James Ryan who hits him with a wrapping tackle around the waist. Tonga put the ball out of play but recover it quickly and target the Irish 22 with a booming kick down the field.
It doesn’t quite reach the line before heading into touch.
Mike Jones16 September 2023 20:13
PENALTY! Ireland 3-0 Tonga (Johnny Sexton, 7 minutes)
Ireland wisely elect to kick from the penalty and Johnny Sexton steps up to the ball. He’s tight on the kick clock but smokes it down the middle.
Tonga are asking whether he went over time but the referee calmly explains that he didn’t as a hooter would have sounded. Ireland move into the lead.
Mike Jones16 September 2023 20:10
Ireland 0-0 Tonga, 4 minutes
Tadhg Beirne wins the lineout but Tonga recover possession in the following ruck and look to move it wide. A forward pass stops them in their tracks.
Ireland then push up the pitch and win a penalty.
Mike Jones16 September 2023 20:08
Kick off! Ireland 0-0 Tonga
Tonga, playing their first match of the 2023 World Cup, kick off the game and chase after the ball making their forward line known to Ireland immediately with a couple of heavy hits.
Mike Jones16 September 2023 20:04
Ireland vs Tonga
The national anthems are played just ahead of kick off in Nantes. Tonga will be stubborn opponents but they’re coming up against the No. 1 side in the world and Ireland have named a strong line-up.
This won’t be an easy task for the Pacific Islanders.
Mike Jones16 September 2023 19:57
Ireland vs Tonga
Ireland head coach Andy Farrell, speaking to ITV: “The game is important to us. It is a completely different type of game compared to last week.
“We’re respecting the opposition because of the quality that is there, as a collective and individuals and coaching staff.
“We know they are a big side, not just big but a physical side who can play the game,. They have a very good set piece and good maul. They want to hit in defence so we need to move them about a bit.”
Mike Jones16 September 2023 19:53
Ireland vs Tonga line-ups
Ireland XV: 15-Hugo Keenan, 14-Mack Hansen, 13-Garry Ringrose, 12-Bundee Aki, 11-James Lowe, 10-Johnny Sexton, 9-Conor Murray, 1-Andrew Porter, 2-Ronan Kelleher, 3-Tadhg Furlong, 4-Tadhg Beirne, 5-James Ryan, 6-Peter O’Mahony, 7-Josh van der Flier, 8-Caelan Doris
Replacements: 16-Rob Herring, 17-David Kilcoyne, 18-Finlay Bealham, 19-Iain Henderson, 20-Ryan Baird, 21-Craig Casey, 22-Ross Byrne, 23-Robbie Henshaw
Tonga XV: 15-Salesi Piutau, 14-Afusipa Taumoepeau, 13-Malakai Fekitoa, 12-Pita Ahki, 11-Solomone Kata, 10-William Havili, 9-Augustine Pulu,1-Siegfried Fisi’ihoi, 2-Paula Ngauamo, 3-Ben Tameifuna, 4-Sam Lousi, 5-Halaleva Fifita, 6-Tanginoa Halaifonua, 7-Sione Talitui, 8-Vaea Fifita.
Replacements: 16-Sam Moli, 17-Tau Koloamatangi, 18-Sosefo Apikotoa, 19-Semisi Paea, 20-Solomone Funaki, 21-Sione Vailanu, 22-Sonatane Takulua, 23-Fine Inisi
Mike Jones16 September 2023 19:48