Ireland continue their Rugby World Cup campaign with a match-up against Tonga this evening. Andy Farrell’s men have enjoyed an easier start to the tournament with opening fixtures against the two seemingly weakest teams in Pool B.
The swept Romania aside last week in a 12-try demoliton scoring 82 points in the scorching heat of Bordeaux andanother bonus point victory is expected here to set them in good stead before they face holders South Africa.
Tonga, meanwhile, have never made it out of the World Cup pool stage and did not play during the opening round of matches. The Pacific Islanders struggled in their warm-ups for this tournament and last defeated beat a top-tier side in 2016, when they edged past Italy. Can they pull off a surprising win against the Irish today?
When is Ireland vs Tonga?
Ireland vs Tonga is due to kick off at 8pm BST on Saturday 16 September at the Stade de la Beaujoire in Nantes.
How can I watch it?
Viewers in the United Kingdom can watch the match live on ITV1, with coverage on the channel from 7.15pm BST. Registered users can also stream the action via ITVX.
Andy Farrell makes just four changes to the XV that defeated Romania last time out. Ireland hooker Dan Sheehan is back in training after picking up a foot injury in the build-up to the World Cup along with Dave Kilcoyne and Robbie Henshaw who both had respective hamstring concerns. Jack Conan remains out with a foot issue.
Tonga have bolstered their side with former All Blacks such as Charles Piutau, Vaea Fifita, George Moala and Malakai Fekitoa converting their allegiance thanks to World Rugby’s new eligibility laws. They are without injured duo Israel Folau and Telusa Veainu for the duration of the tournament while George Moala is suspended for the first three games after a dangerous tip-tackle in the warm-up match versus Canada.
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
Ireland win 1/50
Ireland will be too strong and confident to be truly troubled by Tonga and Andy Farrell will want his team to put another heavy win on the board ahead of tougher tests against South Africa and Scotland. Ireland should earn another bonus point win.
Ireland 46-12 Tonga