IRELAND 44 ROMANIA 10
Keith Earls tied Ireland’s World Cup try-scoring record with a brace in 44-10 victory over Romania to take Joe Schmidt’s men top of Pool D, before suffering a concussion scare on Sunday.
Munster flyer Earls took his World Cup try tally to seven in Ireland’s routine six-try win, drawing level with Brian O’Driscoll to top Ireland’s tournament record.
Earls underwent a pitchside Head Injury Assessment (HIA) midway through the third quarter and though he returned to action, he was replaced permanently 10 minutes later.
Tommy Bowe claimed a try brace of his own in a strong showing, with Rob Kearney claiming a fifth but suffering what looked a minor hip injury in the process.
Chris Henry drove home the sixth score, cementing top spot in the pool with two wins from two matches.
Three months ago the injury-dogged Earls was a huge doubt even to make this World Cup, but the 27-year-old has since ended his 29-month Test absence and become an integral part of Ireland’s campaign.
Bowe shook off the memory of his nightmare showing in the final warm-up match against England at Twickenham on September 5.
The Ulster flyer was desperate to prove his World Cup point after being dropped for Ireland’s 50-7 opening victory over Canada.
The 31-year-old was at fault for Jonny May’s try in Ireland’s 21-13 defeat to England at the start of the month, but returned to form against Romania.
Bowe will now hope to challenge the newly-established first-choice wings of Earls and Dave Kearney for the pivotal Italy and France clashes.
The process of forcing his way back into the starting XV is complicated by Earls’ strong form however, with Dave Kearney also impressing across the warm-up battles and against Canada.
Ireland’s relentless support broke another World Cup record, the 89,267 crowd a new all-time high competition attendance.
New Zealand’s clash with Argentina set an 89,019 record on the tournament’s opening weekend, and Wembley came up trumps once more on the stats front.