Ireland continue their Rugby World Cup campaign with a favorable assignment against Tonga. Widely considered one of the favorites for the Web Ellis Cup despite never having won it before, the Irish beat Romania last week and will be keen to try their luck against another of the smaller nations in Nantes .
Another win is needed to secure progression from the pool before the pressure mounts when Andy Farrell’s side meet South Africa and Scotland. Tonga had a week off in the first round of matches but struggled during their summer preparations. The last time they beat a top team was in their narrow win over Italy in 2016.
Mack Hansen, Conor Murray, Ronan Kelleher and Josh van der Flier are all in the squad as the Irish look to make a perfect start in France. Follow all the action LIVE with Standard Sport’s dedicated match blog!
History and results of face-to-face meetings (h2h)
The two teams have only met once at the World Cup, when Ireland won 32-9 in 1987.
Sexton not focusing on Ireland’s record runs in Tonga Test
Johnny Sexton could become Ireland’s leading points scorer in Saturday’s Rugby World Cup clash against Tonga.
The 38-year-old needs just 10 points to surpass Ronan O’Gara’s tally of 1,083 for Ireland.
The Lions prop insisted, however, that he would have no thoughts of that record when leading Andy Farrell’s back line against a physical and talented Tonga side in Nantes.
“It’s not something that crosses my mind too often,” Sexton said. “It will be a very special moment individually, but no one else will really care.
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Referee Ireland vs Tonga
English referee Wayne Barnes will take charge in Nantes with his compatriot Matthew Carley and Welshman Craig Evans as assistants. The TMO will be the Englishman Tom Foley.
George Moala suspended for Tonga
Tonga are without injured duo Israel Folau and Telusa Veainu for the duration of the tournament. George Moala is suspended for this match and for the matches with Scotland and South Africa after his suspension for a dangerous tackle during the warm-up match against Canada.
Toutai Kefu’s starting squad includes no less than four former All Blacks: Malakai Fekitoa, Charles Piutau, Vaea Fifita and Augustine Pulu, with Tonga benefiting from changes to World Rugby’s eligibility rules which now allow selected players to change international allegiance after a period of three years. year of absence. Bordeaux prop Ben Tameifuna is the captain of the team.
Ireland make four changes
Ireland made four changes to face Tonga, with Mack Hansen, Conor Murray, Ronan Kelleher and Josh van der Flier all brought in for Keith Earls, Jamison Gibson-Park, Rob Herring and Joe McCarthy.
In-form duo Dave Kilcoyne and Robbie Henshaw are both on the bench, but there is still no hooker Dan Sheehan. Jack Conan, Jimmy O’Brien and Stuart McCloskey are also not involved.
Prediction: Ireland will win with a bonus point
We’re yet to see Tonga in this tournament, but they should struggle to get their hands on an Irish team who have real ambitions of going all the way.
Ireland wins, with a bonus point
Tonga team news and roster
Tonga XV: Piutau; Taumoepeau, Fekitoa, Ahki, Kata; Mausia, Pulu; Fisi’ihoi, Ngauamo, Tameifuna (c); Lousi, L. Fifita; Halaifonua, Talitui, V Fifita
Substitutes: Moli, Kolomatangi, Apikotoa, Mafi, Funaki, Vailanu, Takul, Inisi
Ireland team news and roster
Ireland XV: Keenan; Hansen, Ringrose, Aki, Lowe; Sexton (c), Murray; Porter, Kelleher, Furlong; Beyrne, Ryan; O’Mahony, Van der Flier, Doris
Substitutes: Herring, Kilcoyne, Bealham, Henderson, Baird, Casey, Byrne, Henshaw
Where to watch Ireland vs Tonga
TV channel: In the UK, Saturday’s showdown will be shown live and free on ITV1, with coverage starting at 7:15 p.m.
Direct: The ITV website and ITVX app will also offer a free live streaming service for fans online.
Live blog: You can follow all the action live via Standard sportthe Rugby World Cup blog.
Good evening and welcome to Standard Spot’s live coverage of the World Cup clash between Ireland and Tonga.
Kick-off at Stade de la Beaujoire is at 8pm BST.