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Classy Crossan hurt Romania and current crop can repeat feat

By Jonathan Bradley

Tomorrow's World Cup opponents Romania haven't beaten Ireland in eight previous attempts but their heaviest defeat against the current Six Nations champions came all the way back in their first encounter in 1986.

The star performer at Lansdowne Road that day was Ulster's Keith Crossan, the winger scoring a hat-trick in a 60-0 win that was compiled in the days of the four-point try.

While he expects Lynn Howells' side to put up more of a fight tomorrow afternoon at Wembley, Crossan envisages another comfortable win for the men in green.

"It was a long time ago, but I still remember it well," he recalled.

"It's not every day you score three tries for Ireland I suppose.

"With 60-0 and 10 tries it was obviously close to records at the time and I remember all but one being scored by backs… my good friend Trevor Ringland on the other wing still didn't manage to get over though.

"Three tries for Ireland equalled a fairly long-standing record at that stage but Brian Robinson, another friend of mine, scored four a few years later against Zimbabwe in the World Cup.

"I was on the pitch that day and I can tell you I was not very happy with him."

Much has changed since that game almost 30 years ago, the advent of professionalism for one, and Crossan is sure that the Romanians will be a better prepared unit this time around.

"To be fair to them, they had a really rough journey over," he admitted.

"I remember reading in the papers that they arrived the day before in a very old aeroplane.

"They came into Dublin apparently with very little money and I think they had to be helped out by the Irish Tourist Board or someone for somewhere to stay. It wasn't ideal for them obviously and we just ran away with it.

"In those days Romania were sort of vying to get into the Five Nations and make it into the Six Nations it is today. It didn't work out for them for a whole lot of what I imagine were political reasons, but they were playing a lot of Five Nations teams at the time and we'd already gone on tour there with Ulster.

"It was just unfortunate for them that it never worked out. It is a very different place today to what it was back then."

Despite the vast strides made by previously unfancied nations since - already evidenced by the showings of Japan and Georgia during this World Cup - Crossan still expects Joe Schmidt's side to rack up a comfortable win to complement their bonus point triumph over Canada last week.

"A lot has changed since those days but Romania will still very much be the underdogs and I would like to think Ireland will rack up a relatively big score against them," he said.

"The physicality of the game, everyone is so fit and strong now, is completely different to what it was in our day and that can be a bit of a leveller but by any stretch of the imagination Ireland should have the skill both individually and collectively to be comfortable winners.

"Hopefully they can put a decent score on them because they've got some tough games ahead. Everyone is looking to France, naturally enough, but Italy next week are going to be a really tough nut to crack as well."

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