After a disappointing recent performance against England, Tommy Bowe was back with a bang in yesterday’s Rugby World Cup pool match against Romania as his two tries helped Ireland to a 44-10 bonus point win.
Tommy Bowe’s double at Wembley Stadium saw him edge ahead of Denis Hickie as Ireland’s second top try scorer of all-time with 30 tries. Former captain Brian O’Driscoll (46 tries) remains a considerable distance in front.
The Monaghan man has now scored against 13 different countries in 64 Ireland appearances, including five tries against the big Southern Hemisphere trio of New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.
Touching down for the first time in eight Tests, Bowe displayed all of his poaching skills with a deft finish by the right corner for Ireland’s opener against the Oaks yesterday. He followed up with the bonus point score in the 61st minute, getting over out wide again after the Romanian defence was stretched.
Coupled with a strong showing in defence and under the high ball, the 31-year-old winger was pleased with his first outing of the Rugby World Cup but acknowledges that there will a fierce battle for the back-three spots against Italy this week.
“It was great to get back out and see the ball being moved about. To score a try or two was nice and I was happy enough with my performance,” he said, speaking at the Hilton Hotel in Wembley earlier today.
“The competition for the back-three places is something else. Whatever about myself, Keith Earls played exceptionally well, Simon Zebo played well and Rob Kearney looked full of energy when he came on. There’s huge competition there and all I can do is put my hand up when I’m given the opportunity.
“As the games get tougher and as the weeks hopefully go on, there are going to be people who pick up knocks. There was no massive drop-down in performance from yesterday or from the week before.
“Every player wants to give the coaches a headache. We all feel we are good enough to be playing week in, week out. There are two massive matches coming up in the next two weeks, so training will be very interesting this week.”
High standards have certainly been maintained by the players wearing the number 15, 14 and 11 jerseys throughout Ireland’s warm-up campaign and into their two World Cup openers against Canada and Romania.
The back-three combinations have run in seven tries so far at England 2015, in addition to four try assists (three of them coming yesterday from Zebo who was a whisker away from getting on the scoresheet himself in the opening quarter).
Bowe was admittedly ‘disappointed’ to miss out on selection for the Canada game, with Dave Kearney making a try-scoring contribution on the right wing. And despite coming into the tournament with the best strike-rate of all the available wingers, he readily accepts that he cannot rely on his past record and must deliver the goods on a consistent basis both at training and in matches.
“I would normally be relatively consistent with my performances, but that day (against England at Twickenham recently) was definitely one of the more difficult ones. But I bounced back and put it behind me relatively early. I was excited to get back on the pitch again,” admitted Bowe.
The Ulster ace has unfinished business with the World Cup after Ireland’s frustrating quarter-final exit at the hands of Wales in New Zealand four years ago. Buoyed by the level of support the team received at the 2011 tournament, he was equally delighted to see so many green jerseys and flags at Wembley yesterday afternoon.
“It was such a massive occasion and even the guys who weren’t playing said they were gutted not to be out there. You can’t emphasise what it means to have a crowd like that behind you. It really does add a huge element to our game and we will need that over the next couple of weeks,” he added.
IRELAND ALL-TIME TOP TRY SCORERS:
46 – Brian O’Driscoll (46 tries/133 appearances)
30 – Tommy Bowe (30 tries/64 appearances)
29 – Denis Hickie (29 tries/62 appearances)
21 – Shane Horgan (21 tries/65 appearances)
19 – Girvan Dempsey (19 tries/82 appearances)
18 – Geordan Murphy (18 tries/72 appearances)
17 – Brendan Mullin (17 tries/55 appearances)
16 – Ronan O’Gara (16 tries/128 appearances)
16 – Andrew Trimble (16 tries/58 appearances)
15 – Keith Earls (15 tries/43 appearances)
15 – Kevin Maggs (15 tries/70 appearances)
15 – Keith Wood (15 tries/58 appearances)
TOMMY BOWE’S TRY RECORD – BY OPPOSITION:
3 v USA (2004), (2, 2011)
1 v Japan (2004)
4 v Italy (2006), (2009), (2, 2012)
3 v Scotland (2, 2008), (2010)
2 v Canada (2, 2008)
3 v Argentina (2008), (2, 2012)
2 v Wales (2009), (2012)
2 v Australia (2009), (2014)
3 v England (2, 2010), (2011)
1 v New Zealand (2010)
2 v South Africa (2010), (2014)
2 v France (2, 2012)
2 v Romania (2, 2015)