Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll believes intelligence was the difference in his team’s 21-6 triumph over Australia at Lansdowne Road last night.
And the Irish displayed intelligence in bucketloads, mastering the gale force winds and near torrential rain to overcome a Wallaby side that was far from “the smartest team in world rugby” as O’Driscoll’s pre-match butter-up suggested.
The hosts foiled every attack their visitors attempted to launch through solid defence, and laid an attacking platform through their forwards before swinging it wide for O’Driscoll and co. to surge towards the tryline.
The win heralded Ireland’s first ever successive victories over southern hemisphere opponents, with South Africa being their first scalps last weekend.
At the post match conference O’Driscoll praised his side’s performance.
“Australia are a smart, quality side,” O’Driscoll told AFP. “So if you can out-think them then you have done a good job. We are brimming with confidence and when we came off at half-time we were the ones with the big chests.”
Those “big chests” came primarily as a result of a try from fullback Geordon Murphy late in the first-half, which perfectly displayed Ireland’s new-found penchant for running rugby.
The much vaunted Sterling Mortlock/ Lote Tuqiri “monster” midfield duo had to be content with sporadic attacking opportunities and were comprehensively outplayed by Gordan D’Arcy and O’Driscoll.
Post match Mortlock and coach John Connolly suggested that the atrocious conditions had favoured the Irish. O’Driscoll vehemently rejected this notion.
“We’re not responsible for when it rains and when the wind is like that, you’ve got to play what’s in front of you,” he told reporters.
“I have to say, when the conditions were half reasonable in the first-half, I felt as though we were the ones that played the rugby.
“We were the ones that showed good skill levels, were able to bring the ball through phases.”
His assessment is spot on and it has to be mentioned that Ireland’s attack was not limited to forwards taking it into contact and setting up phase after phase. Often they looked to swing it wide and often they threw long-distance cut-out passes, particularly in the first-half when conditions favoured the Wallabies.
Mortlock and Connolly did however offer praise to the Irish midfield pair, calling them “outstanding”. O’Driscoll modestly sought to deflect this praise away from himself.
“I think D’Arcy played extremely well,” said O’Driscoll of his Leinster teammate.
Connolly also conceded that their side where second best for virtually the entire Test.
“We talked about it and knew what to expect, but we just didn’t handle them at all,” admitted Connolly. “It [Australia's performance] was very disappointing. The Irish were more clinical and showed a lot of composure.”
Ireland complete their year-end tour schedule against the Pacific Islands on Saturday.