The fly-half and captain scored under the posts in the first half
Johnny Sexton became Ireland’s record points scorer with a try under the posts against Tonga, eclipsing Ronan O’Gara’s tally of 1,083 at the Rugby World Cup.
Fly-half and captain Sexton came into the game just nine points behind his old rival for the No 10 shirt but quickly got on the board with a seventh-minute penalty at the Stade de la Beaujoire in Nantes.
Ireland eventually took the upper hand after a competitive start in the Pool B clash against the Pacific Islanders, who were the 20th and final side at the 2023 tournament to get their campaign underway.
Forwards Tadhg Beirne and Caelan Doris scored in a five-minute period with Sexton converting both scores to leave him on the verge of eclipsing O’Gara, needing just three further points to go out on his own in the No 1 spot.
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Sexton, who won his 115th cap in the contest, was the beneficiary of Ireland’s now trademark strike move as Conor Murray popped inside to the onrushing Garry Ringrose who stormed through the Tongan defence.
Ringrose then passed to Sexton, who was up on his right supporting, and he jinked inside one attempted tackle and dived over before raising both arms aloft in celebration, clearly aware of the historical significance of that moment.
Earlier in the week, Sexton had been pressed by the media on what it would mean to become Ireland’s record points scorer. He said: “It’s not something that comes into my head too often.
“It will be a very special moment individually, but no one else will really care. I won’t be making decisions based off the back of it; I want to win the game, I want to progress further in the competition – that’s the only thing that’s going through my head at the moment.”