Rugby Union: Irish look to their pack

ANOTHER FACILE if not entirely futile Irish win is anticipated at Lansdowne Road this afternoon when they entertain a distinctly non-vintage Romanian side in a World Cup "qualifier" which has already been rendered academic by both sides' wins over Georgia.

In Ireland's case, the margin was 70-0, whereas Romania struggled to put away the Georgians by 27-23 on Wednesday. Given four days less respite than their hosts, the Romanians may take a dilettante view of today's encounter. Alternatively, as their coach, Mircea Paraschiv, claims, the weight of securing their place in a fourth successive World Cup and in so doing saving the future of the game in Romania will enable them to "play more freely".

However, that is based on the somewhat dubious premise that his pack will win some ball. An injury-time interception try gave a misleading look to Wednesday's result, and Romania undoubtedly have a bit more potency and talent in their backs than the one-dimensional Georgians but shorn of four of their tight five by the less-than-co-operative stance of certain French clubs, their pack looked one of the worst that the country has produced.

Given Ireland's burgeoning pack could be one of the best they've ever produced, it is conceivable that they could lay the foundations for another commanding win.

Both sides have made three changes, but whereas Romania's are all enforced, this afternoon provides a gilt-edged opportunity for the prolific Bedford winger Daragh O'Mahony and Kiaran Scally, the 20-year-old Leinster scrum- half, to secure positions for next week's match with South Africa.

IRELAND: C O'Shea (London Irish); J Bishop (London Irish), J Bell (Dungannon), P Duignan (Galwegians), D O'Mahony (Bedford); E Elwood (Galwegians), C Scally (UCD); P Clohessy (Young Munster), A Clarke (Dungannon), P Wallace (Saracens), P Johns (Saracens; capt), M O'Kelly (London Irish), E Miller (Terenure College), A Ward (Ballynahinch), V Costello (St Mary's College).

ROMANIA: M Vioreanu (Timisoara Univ); R Fugigi (CSM Sibiu), G Brezoianu (Timisoara Univ), R Gontineac (Aurillac), G Solomie (Aurillac); R Vusec (Strasbourg), P Mitu (Steaua Bucharest); D Niculae (Aurillac), R Mavrodin (Steaua Bucharest), F Marioara (Dynamo Bucharest), M Dragomir (Steaua Bucharest), V Doja (Dynamo Bucharest), A Manta (Aurillac), A Girbu (Oyonnax), C Draguceanu (Steaua Bucharest, captain).

Referee: P Honiss (New Zealand).

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