Ireland didn’t have matters all their own way, but there was still a pretty clear gulf in class between the sides and head coach Dan McFarland might be sending a list of more potential senior candidates to Joe Schmidt when he sits down to draw up an end of tour report.
New Munster signing Robin Copeland might be one, given he won Player of the Tournament, but on this tour there have been a number of standout performers in a squad that, when they had opportunity, played a delightful brand of rugby.
That was only evident in short, sharp bursts last night, but some credit for not being able to string together longer phases of attacking rugby must be given to Romania, in the knowledge they will be in Ireland’s group in next year’s World Cup.
Ireland always looked good enough to win with something to spare, and although they were unable to put Romania to the sword with total conviction, McFarland said he was very proud.
“We’ve just won three matches with bonus points against three international teams in nine days,” he said.
“We knew this match was going to be different, all three teams offered different challenges and that was the interesting thing. In terms of developing Irish players we got to see all sorts of aspects of the game, counter-attacks in the first game, ability to put patterns together in the second game and set piece play this time. It will be very interesting watching for the guys in the international set-up.
“You’ve got to remember that Romania are a very proud side and they were trying to retain the trophy [champions for the last two years]. They went all out to beat us, they played a second string side in the last match to keep their players fresh for today. We had a number of injuries coming into this and yet beat them with a bonus point. To my mind they shouldn’t have had a try either, although I suppose the Romanian crowd would have been disappointed if they didn’t get one.”
Ian Keatley and Florin Vlaicu exchanged early penalties before Dominic Ryan and Craig Gilroy each scored exceptionally well worked tries in the minutes leading up to half-time, with the out half converting both for a 17-3 lead.
Copeland scorched in for a third try inside a minute of the restart with quite a brilliant mazy run and Keatley pushed the lead out by a further seven. Romania never recovered from that although they battled on and forced Ireland to defend for periods right through the second half.
They were rewarded with a penalty try, converted by Vlaicu, a minute from time, but no sooner had the home crowd finished celebrating than Ireland set off in search of more.
JJ Hanrahan was put into space, might have scored himself but unselfishly fed Andrew Conway, the winger being taken out with an illegal shoulder charge and referee Ian Davies gave Ireland a penalty try that Keatley converted on the buzzer.
EMERGING IRELAND: J Murphy (Munster), C Gilroy (Ulster), E Griffin (Connacht), S McCloskey (Ulster), A Conway (Munster), I Keatley (Munster), P Marshall (Ulster), J Ryan (Munster), J Tracy (Leinster), M Bent (Leinster), B Holland (Munster), D Foley (Munster), D Ryan (Leinster, capt), R Copeland (Munster), S Dougall (Munster).
Replacements: B Byrne (Leinster) for Tracy, R Lutton (Ulster) for Bent, T O’Donnell (Munster) for Dougall (all 60), B Macken (Leinster) for E Griffin (66), JJ Hanrahan (Munster) for McCloskey (67), P Butler (Munster) for Ryan (73).
ROMANIA: G Conache, S Hihetah, C Desscalu, C Gal, I Dmitru, F Vaicu, V Ivan, C Pristavita, E Capatana, H Pungea, V Popirlan, M Sirba, V Lucaci, M Macovel (captain), D Carpo.
Replacements: A Ilie for Descalu (49), A Tarus for Pungea(49), F Lazar for (53), F Lazar for Dumitru (65).
Referee: I Davies (Wales).