Irrepressible Ireland whip Wobblies

Ireland outclassed a woeful Australia, securing an impressive 21-6 victory at Lansdowne Road.

The hosts were sensational, mastering the gale force winds and driving rain through intelligent backline play and uncompromising work by an impressive pack.

They dominated both possession and territory for the entire Test, with the Wallaby’s hardly making a foray into their 22 in the second half.

Australia’s forwards continued their dreadful form, being dominated in both the tight and loose, and coach John Connolly will be wondering what to do to remedy this facet of play.

Only once did the Wallaby’s maul gain any momentum, but even that 51st minute event fell apart when they were penalized for truck-and-trailer.

The Ireland back row of and Denis Leamy, David Wallace and Man-of-the-Match Neil Best were omnipresent, ensuring that their presence was felt on attack, and stifled Australia on defence, through slowing their ball at the breakdown or roasting runners in the tackle.

Collectively the Irish decision-making in difficult conditions was very impressive. They often opted to retain possession through multiple phases, sucking in Wallaby defenders. But when Ronan O’Gara called for the ball, the backline always looked dangerous.

Ireland nearly scored their first try in this very fashion, but the TMO ruled that Geordan Murphy had knocked on as he attempted to touchdown. The move was set up by 22 phases of sustained Irish attack.

They made sure shortly afterwards however. O’Gara, who controlled affairs from pivot all match, displayed excellent ball handling and awareness when he first controlled a wobbly pass then executed a perfectly weighted cross-kick which Denis Hickey collected and stepped inside the cover defence to score in the left corner.

They struck again shortly before the break through a master class of attacking play.

In a sweeping move that flowed from left to right, a green wave surged towards the Wallaby tryline. O’Gara looped with Brian O’Driscoll then found the hard running Shane Horgan 10 metres out, and the big winger dished inside to Geordan Murphy to score.

O’Gara’s conversion sent the hosts into the break with a 15-6 lead.

Australia never recovered from that and their already difficult task was made harder when they had Mat Rogers and Phil Waugh sin-binned for a physical confrontation with Leamy, who joined them on the wood.

Any hopes of a resurgence that an early Mortlock penalty might have brought were quickly dashed by two from O’Gara, who later almost created Hickey’s second try with another cross-kick, before the wing as bundled into touch by Chris Latham.

Ultimately Australia were beaten by a much more organised and well coached unit, who are fast building a reputation as world rugby’s side to watch.

Sadly we will not get to see what would have been a magnificent Test against New Zealand, but the World Cup could be a better stage for that clash.


Tries:Denis Hickie,Geordan Murphy
Conversions:Ronan O’Gara
Penalties:O’Gara (3)

Penalties:Stirling Mortlock (2)


Ireland: 15 Geordan Murphy, 14 Shane Horgan, 13 Brian O’Driscoll (captain), 12 Gordon D’Arcy, 11 Denis Hickie, 10 Ronan O’Gara, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Denis Leamy, 7 David Wallace, 6 Neil Best, 5 Paul O’Connell, 4 Donncha O’Callaghan, 3 John Hayes, 2 Rory Best, 1 Bryan Young.
Replacements: 16 Frank Sheahan, 17 Marcus Horan, 18 Malcolm O’Kelly, 19 Simon Easterby, 20 Peter Stringer, 21 Paddy Wallace, 22 Girvan Dempsey.

Australia: 15 Chris Latham, 14 Clyde Rathbone, 13 Lote Tuqiri, 12 Stirling Mortlock (captain), 11 Mark Gerrard, 10 Stephen Larkham, 9 Matt Giteau, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Phil Waugh, 6 Rocky Elsom, 5 Mark Chisholm, 4 Nathan Sharpe, 3 Guy Shepherdson, 2 Brendan Cannon, 1 Al Baxter.
Replacements: 16 Tai McIsaac, 17 Benn Robinson, 18 Al Campbell, 19 George Smith, 20 Josh Valentine, 21 Mat Rogers, 22 Scott Staniforth