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Oldest team in World Cup history have more than enough to overcome weary Romania

25 Sep | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Oldest team in World Cup history have more than enough to overcome weary Romania

Fresh legs and fixture scheduling will help new-look Ireland side to continue upwards momentum against determined Romania

Given that they have been given just three full days to prepare for their game against pool favourites Ireland on Sunday, the fatigued Romania might have been relieved to discover that they would be taking on officially the oldest starting XV in Rugby World Cup history.

Yet while such a stat shows just how much experience Joe Schmidt – who makes 12 changes from Ireland’s first outing against Canada – has at his disposal, it also masks the amount of pace, power and dynamism within his ranks.

With an average age of just 29 years and 245 days, these supposed pensioners still pack quite a punch.

And based on the Romanian’s performance on Wednesday against France – the other side most likely to progress through to the quarter-finals – Ireland cannot afford any let-up in their intensity.

Betway ambassador David Wallace described their 50-7 defeat of Canada as the most impressive performance of the tournament so far and, after a stuttering warm-up campaign that finished with consecutive defeats to Wales and England, Schmidt’s side must capitalise on that momentum.

The contest should still prove an interesting one, however.

Romania are ranked one place above Canada in the world rankings and proved quite a match for France, who only pulled away on the scoreboard during the closing stages.

As Japan and Fiji have already showed, it is virtually impossible for a side to put on a performance of similar intensity with such a short turnaround.

However, whatever tiredness the Romanians will be carrying in their legs will be at least partly offset by the inevitable disruption of such widespread changes to Irish personnel – with many of France’s struggles stemming from the fact that they made 13 changes of their own.

They eventually ran out as winners by 28 points – virtually the exact same winning margin as the previous two occasions when Ireland have played Romania at the World Cup.

Having triumphed 44-14 in 1999 and 45-17 in 2003, they are 10/1 to prevail by between 26 and 30 points once again on Sunday.

The big team news comes with a first international start for Cian Healy since March following neck surgery.

Ireland will no doubt look to continue to fine tune their forward play early on – and having gone close to scoring after being introduced from the bench last time out, Healy is 20/1 to celebrate the completion of a remarkable comeback by scoring the first try of the game.

However, Ireland’s most pressing concern will be to build on the signs of promise shown by their back division with accusations of a lack of creativity continuing to circle around.

Four of their seven tries against Canada were claimed by backs, with Jared Payne the only one of the scorers to retain his place from the opening match.

With Ulster club mate Darren Cave lining up alongside him, the centre should feel right at home and is 27/20 to score another try at any time.

Schmidt’s most intriguing alteration comes with the selection of Ian Madigan at fly-half as Johnny Sexton is rested.

Madigan is also the third-choice scrum-half in the squad, and Schmidt has already stated his intention to give him the chance to link the play in that position just in case of emergency.

With Ireland likely to be pressing home their advantage at that stage against what will no doubt be flagging legs, the utility back is 12/1 to score the last try.

As the two sides juggle the varying challenges of new faces and tired bodies, both teams would probably settle for more of the same from the opening weekend.

Ireland v Romania match betting

Rugby World Cup betting

READ: David Wallace: Ireland the most impressive team so far – and they will only get better

READ: Mike Tindall in Man v Machine: Round Two

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