Boys In Green Bashing On The Cards For Romania
Ireland v Romania
Ireland’s northern hemisphere dominance was underlined by their Six Nations triumph earlier this year.
Their pre-tournament form was poor: defeats to Wales at Lansdowne Road and England at Twickenham had some pundits questioning coach Joe Schmidt’s preparation, but they kicked off the World Cup with a 50-7 victory over Canada, in which they ran in seven tries.
Romania have qualified for every World Cup so far and kept up that record by finishing second behind Georgia in the European Nations Cup. Their World Cup preparations consisted of wins over Namibia, Spain and Argentina A before losing narrowly to Tonga, and they began their tournament with a battling 38-11 defeat to France, in which they were tied at 3-3 after half an hour.
Ireland centre Robbie Henshaw missed the opening game against Canada and was not able to train on Wednesday, so Luke Fitzgerald, who made his World Cup debut on Saturday, may once again deputise. Jonny Sexton, Peter O’Mahony and Iain Henderson also sat out midweek training, but all are expected to be fit for Sunday’s game, and having come on at the hour mark last weekend against Canada, Cian Healy may be in line for a start.
Veteran Welsh coach Lynn Howells has assembled Romania’s most experienced tournament squad, which includes their star player, Saracens full-back Catalin Fercu. But their strength is in the pack. Flanker and captain Mihai Macovei will drive the forwards and prop Mihai Lazar is a formidable opponent.
Ireland have played against Romania on eight occasions and have a perfect record, winning all eight. Their biggest win was a 60-0 thrashing in 1986, their last meeting came at Landsowne Road in 2005 when the home side prevailed 43-12,
and the average margin of victory in their eight encounters is 31.75 points.
Romania have a simple game plan built around a strong pack and the place-kicking of Florin Vlaicu. They tired against France late on, but they made Philippe Saint-Andre’s side work hard for their win, and the Irish forwards will be in for a bruising experience against the tough Romanian pack.
But Ireland are a stronger team than France and have been improving steadily as they aim to peak for the Pool-determining clashes with Italy and France later on. The last time they met Romania, they prevailed by 31 points, but that was back in 2005.
This is a fitter, stronger side, the best in the northern hemisphere and with the potential to reach the last four of this tournament. I think they will improve again in this game and can cover a big handicap. Back Ireland -40 in the Match Handicap market at 10/11 and as a bonus. BoyleSports will give you your money back as a free bet on losing First Tryscorer bets if the first try of the game is not converted.
*Prices correct at time of publication