Cool Sexton stars on debut in Irish stroll

Ireland 41 Fiji 6
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The Independent Online

Jonathan Sexton impressed on his debut at fly-half with 16 points as Ireland warmed up to face world champions South Africa by dispatching Fiji 41-6 in Dublin on Saturday.

Sexton, standing in for Ronan O'Gara, converted all five tries – three from the sideline – and landed two penalties in wet and windy conditions for a perfect day of goalkicking and the man of the match award.

"Jonathan showed great maturity out there," coach Declan Kidney said. And the Fiji coach Glen Ella praised him, too. "I was impressed by Ireland's No 10," Ella said. "He has a bright future for many years to come."

However, Sexton is likely to make way for record points-scorer O'Gara and be in the reserves when the team to play the South Africa next weekend is announced tomorrow.

Flanker Denis Leamy is not expected to be available, however, after being stretchered off with an ankle injury.

Winger Keith Earls scored the first of his pair off a pass from Eoin Reddan, but Sexton's second penalty was all Ireland could add by half-time. Fiji's fly-half Nicky Little cut the deficit to seven with his second penalty straight after the break, and Fiji, despite being outmuscled, were competitive.

But when Little's pass was intercepted by Brian O'Driscoll, who ran 40 metres for a converted try, Ireland were out to a 20-6 buffer. Earls crossed for his second try in a backline move, before further tries for full-back Rob Kearney and winger Shane Horgan.

Ireland: Tries Earls 2, O'Driscoll, Kearney, Horgan; Conversions Sexton 5; Penalties Sexton 2. Fiji: Penalties Little 2.