Johnny Sexton celebrated his 100th cap with a second-half try as Ireland warmed up for a meeting with the All Blacks next Saturday with a crushing 60-5 win over Japan. The Ireland captain marked his milestone appearance by claiming the fifth of nine tries at a below-capacity Aviva Stadium. He also kicked 11 points.
Andrew Conway ran in a hat-trick while James Lowe, Jamison Gibson-Park, the midfield duo Bundee Aki and Garry Ringrose, and the replacement prop Cian Healy were also on the scoresheet for the commanding hosts. Japan’s consolation came from Siosaia Fifita but they were powerless to prevent Ireland stretching their winning streak to six.
Sexton became the seventh Irishman to reach a century of appearances following Brian O’Driscoll, Ronan O’Gara, Rory Best, Paul O’Connell, John Hayes and Healy and was afforded a standing ovation before kick-off. The 36-year-old said the try he scored was one of the best moments of his career. He was presented with a samurai sword by his opponents before the game.
“We’re happy that the performance matched the occasion,” said Ireland’s coach, Andy Farrell. “Our defence was outstanding. We put pressure on Japan and they spilled the ball a bit and we kept calm and clinical in attack. It was nice to see things come to fruition.”
New Zealand set world records for the most Test points and tries scored in a calendar year as their second string crossed the line seven times in a 47-9 win over Italy at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.
Ian Foster’s side have scored 96 tries in 2021, breaking Argentina’s record of 92, set in 2003, while their total points tally stands at 675, eclipsing South Africa’s 658-point haul from 2007. It was New Zealand’s third successive win of their autumn tour before Tests against Ireland and France.
Tries from debutant Thibaud Flament and Peato Mauvaka in the second half gave France a 29-20 victory over Argentina at the Stade de France. Melvyn Jaminet kicked 19 points to ensure a spirited comeback from the Pumas ultimately ended in vain despite Mateo Carreras’s late score.