Wales legend Alun Wyn Jones proved right with pre-match comments on Johnny Sexton
The prodigal son returns.
Johnny Sexton has returned with a bang from his near-six month lay off, with a mesmeric first-half display in Ireland's opening 2023 Rugby World Cup clash against Romania.
With Ireland having already secured a bonus point by half-time, the Leinster out-half's fingerprints were all over an expansive display.
After an initial scare following a Romanian try off the back of an overcooked cross-field kick, Sexton regathered composure and led Ireland to a five-star opening half which saw them score five tries in the process.
Sexton himself notched the fifth on the stroke of half-time. A second try followed just before his substitution on the 65th minute, with the fly-half notching up seven conversions too.
Prior to kick-off, Welsh legend and Sexton's former British and Irish Lions teammate, Alun Wyn Jones, stressed the importance of Sexton's return to Andy Farrell's Irish side on Virgin Media.
🗣 "There's always an option, there's always motion.
🗣 "It's a tough ask to defend against them, particularly when Johnny has a point to prove.
Great insight from Alun Wyn Jones on how teams prepare to face this Ireland squad.#IREvROM #RWC2023 pic.twitter.com/zfEhMDku4p
— Virgin Media Sport (@VMSportIE) September 9, 2023
Alun Wyn Jones highlights Johnny Sexton's importance:
Speaking to the calmness and composure which Ireland's soon-to-be record points scorer brings to this Irish backline, Wyn Jones said;
"It is nice to see Johnny back... he's definitely ready. What he brings to Ireland's general attack, there is always an option. If you pause them, and start again, there is always someone moving (in the Irish attack) because of Johnny.
"He'll always have an option inside and out, there'll always be a second line of attack out the back, a lot of goings on in the picture. When the set-piece is working, Johnny sits back in the pocket and he conducts the play.
"It's a tough ask to defend against him, especially when he has a point to prove. And in this first game too, when the team has such intent."
And it took just a matter of minutes for Wyn Jones to be proved right, as a classically Sexton-orchestrated backline move sent Bundee Aki free, who then released Jamison Gibson-Park and sent Ireland on their way to building an unsurmountable 33-8 half-time lead.
Sexton continued on in a similar vein in the second-half, pulling the strings as a rampaging Ireland eventually ran out 82-8 winners.
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