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Rugby World Cup 2023: Johnny Sexton becomes Ireland's all-time top points scorer as they cruise to 59-16 win over Tonga

Johnny Sexton's 16 points in the first half made him Ireland's all-time top points scorer; Tadhg Beirne, Caelan Doris, Mack Hansen, James Lowe, Bundee Aki, and Rob Herring also got on the scoresheet for Ireland; Tonga responded through William Havili and Vaea Fifita

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Take a look at all the action from Saturday in the Rugby World Cup, with Samoa taking on Chile, Wales facing Portugal and Ireland's head-to-head with Tonga

Johnny Sexton became Ireland's all-time top points scorer as his side's dominant performance earned a 59-16 Rugby World Cup victory over Tonga in Nantes on Saturday night.

Sexton's 16 points in the first half saw him surpass Ronan O'Gara's 1083-point record with tries from Tadhg Beirne, Caelan Doris and Mack Hansen helping Ireland cruise into a lead and earn their bonus point within the first 40 minutes.

Tonga responded in the first half twice from William Havili's boot and a Vaea Fifita try, a Peter O'Mahoney yellow card giving them the opportunity to reduce the deficit to 31-13 at the break.

In the second half, Ireland kept control through James Lowe, Rob Herring and a Bundee Aki double, Tonga's only score coming again from the boot of Havili as the world No 1 side secured a 59-16 victory which keeps them top of Pool B on 10 points.

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Sky Sports News' James Savundra reacts as Ireland get their second win of the 2023 Rugby World Cup after a resounding 59-16 victory over Tonga

Story of the game

The crowd was in fine voice as the match got under way and it was the man of the moment Sexton who got the first points, before Havili responded with an incredible conversion from over halfway to bring the game level at 3-3 in what looked to be shaping into a tight contest.

Score Summary: Ireland 59-16 Tonga

Ireland: Tries: Tadhg Beirne (21), Caelan Doris (27), Mack Hansen (33), Johnny Sexton (38), James Lowe (59), Bundee Aki (64, 69), Rob Herring (80); Conversions: Johnny Sexton (7, 22, 28, 34, 39), Ross Byrne (60, 65, 69, 80+1)

Tonga: Tries: Vaea Fifita (40+8); Conversions: William Havili (16, 24, 40+9, 43)

However, it was not long before Ireland regained the lead and showed their class in attack to romp in front, a brilliant pass from Sexton setting Caelan Doris free, Beirne finishing off the move before the captain added the extras to make it 10-3.

After Havili added another penalty for Tonga in the 24th minute, Doris went from assisting to getting his name on the scoresheet, powering over off the back of the maul to help extend Ireland's lead to 17-6.

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Ireland's Mack Hansen scores their side's third try of the game during the Rugby World Cup 2023, Pool B match at the Stade de la Beaujoire, France. Picture date: Saturday September 16, 2023.
Image: Mack Hansen was one of many Ireland stars to cross the whitewash

From there Ireland really took control as Tonga fatigued, Hansen showing some incredible pace and footwork to evade the Tonga defence and score. Sexton added the extras to make it 24-6 with just under 10 minutes left of the first half.

It was then Sexton himself who got in under the sticks after taking the final pass from a brilliant Garry Ringrose break, converting his own score to give Ireland a 31-6 lead and make history by becoming Ireland's top points scorer.

It looked like Ireland had the game wrapped up, but a yellow card for Peter O'Mahony on the stroke of half-time for killing the ball on his own line put Ireland under pressure and Tonga used it to their advantage, Fifita bursting over the line and Havili adding the extras to make it 31-13 at the break.

With Sexton subbed off at half-time, Tonga were the first to add to their score again through the boot of Havili but it was not long before the world No 1 side went over again as Lowe ran a great line from short range, Ross Byrne adding the conversion to give Ireland a 38-16 lead with 20 minutes remaining.

It was then Aki's turn to get in on the action with back-to-back tries, breaking from the lineout move and leaving Tonga's defenders in his wake, Byrne converting both to give Ireland a 52-16 lead.

Herring then finished off the most authoritative of performances, crashing over off the back of a poor Tonga lineout and Byrne once again converting to give Andy Farrell's side the 59-16 win ahead of their crucial Pool B fixtures against South Africa and Scotland.

'This match wasn't about personal achievements'- What they said

Ireland's record point-scorer Johnny Sexton, speaking to ITV:

"We're delighted to get five points against a very good team - that's what tonight [Saturday] was about.

"We move on and we concentrate now on a massive game next week. Playing against the world champions is going to be very special and we have to be ready.

"I don't think it's about individual achievements this evening, it's about getting the next win and keep building in this tournament."

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell, speaking to ITV:

"I thought it was a good performance. Even when we were coughing up ball down near Tonga's try-line in the first half, I thought we were well in control and when we got a couple of scores up we started hitting our straps.

"We stayed strong and true to the task, and we'd have taken that, I'd have thought, before the game.

"Johnny deserved to have it like that, but I supposed he'd say that's his job to kick the points and score some tries every now and then.

"That doesn't make him, what does make him is how he leads his men every single week and how he's selfless in making sure he gets his team ready to play. That's what he'll be remembered for."

What's Next?

Next up for Ireland is a tournament-defining clash against reigning champions South Africa on Saturday 23 September, with kick-off at 8pm, the winner the favourite to top Pool B.

For Tonga, their tournament continues on Sunday 24 September as they face a battling Scotland side at 4.45pm.

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