Johnny Sexton became Ireland’s all-time Test points scorer as Ireland swept aside Tonga at the World Cup on Saturday after Wales made it two pool wins in two.
Ireland ran in eight tries in a convincing 59-16 bonus-point win against the Tongans in Nantes, but it was when Sexton touched down in the 38th minute that history was made.
Sexton, 38, jumped to his feet with a huge grin and was mobbed by his teammates after moving to 1,090 points to surpass his predecessor as Irish fly-half, Ronan O’Gara.
Yet a far tougher test awaits next Saturday when Ireland head to Paris to take on defending champions South Africa.
The record was “a lovely personal milestone,” Sexton said. “But I’d much rather a victory.”
“We’ll move on and we’ll concentrate now on a massive game next week,” he added.
South Africa, who first face minnows Romania on Sunday, will not relish facing Bundee Aki, the scorer of two of Ireland’s tries in a powerful performance.
Ireland’s aim in this tournament is to move past the quarter-finals of a World Cup for the first time.
Earlier, Wales also racked up a bonus-point win in a 28-8 victory against an impressive Portugal side.
Coach Warren Gatland had made 13 changes from Wales’ gripping 32-26 win over Fiji and they had to face some determined Portuguese attacking in the first 30 minutes in Nice before notching up the win.
– Pressure on Australia –
Wales have now won their past six successive matches, and 12 of their past 14 World Cup pool games since 2011.
In their opening match in France, they beat Fiji 32-26 in a match high on entertainment.
Saturday’s win was less attractive, Gatland admitted.
“It wasn’t pretty but we got the job done in the end,” he said.
“Obviously a few guys were a little bit rusty, not having played together for a while so we’ll take the ‘W’ (for win) and move on.
“In fairness to Portugal they put us under pressure, they moved the ball and I was impressed with them.”
As the Portuguese resistance held firm, it looked as if Wales might miss out on a bonus point that could prove decisive in a Pool C that also includes Australia and Georgia, two teams that beat Wales in the November internationals.
But the impressive Taulupe Faletau barrelled over from a five-metre scrum for a fourth try that puts the pressure on Eddie Jones’ Australia team who face Fiji on Sunday.
Wales and Australia will meet in Lyon next Sunday.
In the first game of the day, former Australia fly-half Christian Leali’ifano kicked 16 points as Samoa beat Chile 43-10 to start their World Cup challenge with a bonus-point win.
The Pacific Islanders put five tries on the board as Duncan Paia’aua, Jonathan Taumateine and Fritz Lee scored and Sama Malolo crossed twice against the South Americans, who trailed by just two points at half-time.
“It’s pretty special,” Samoa lock Theo McFarland, a former basketball player, said.
“I thought in the first half we were sloppy, in the second half the boys really showed up and put the effort in.”
Leali’ifano, 35, started for Seilala Mapusua’s Samoa, four years after featuring at the last World Cup for the Wallabies.
On Sunday, England also take on Japan in a Pool D clash in Nice.
Originally published as Sexton breaks records as Ireland eye Springboks at World Cup