Wallabies humbled by Irish
First-half tries by Denis Hickie and Geordan Murphy — both brought into the starting line-up for the match by coach Eddie O’Sullivan after the 32-15 win over South Africa – -saw them to a
relatively comfortable victory over the Wallabies.
It’s only their second win over the Australians in the last 25 years.
Ireland were pinned back in their 22 early with Brian O’Driscoll knocking on and eventually they conceded a penalty which Stirling
Mortlock easily put between the posts in the fifth minute.
But the Irish then produced an extraordinary passage of play where they camped inside the Aussies’ 22 for seven minutes swinging the ball from wing to wing.
They were eventually thwarted when Geordan Murphy was adjudged to have knocked on before grounding the ball.
The Irish finally got the try their overall play deserved as O’Gara’s delightful kick to the wing behind the Aussie backline found Hickie and the 30-year-old veteran — playing instead of the injured Andrew Trimble — twisted and turned inside three Australians to touch down for his 26th try in 52 tests.
O’Gara failed to convert into the wind but the Aussies suffered another blow as fly-half Stephen Larkham had to go off and be replaced by Mat Rogers.
The Irish got a deserved second try on the stroke of half-time as Horgan offloaded brilliantly to Murphy and the Leicester fullback ran in to touch down.
O’Gara made light of the wind to convert and give the scoreline a more realistic look at 15-3.
The Wallabies reduced the deficit four minutes into the second period through a penalty from Mortlock.
O’Gara replied in kind after the visitors strayed offside to restore the 15 point advantage with 30 minutes remaining.
However, the tense atmosphere boiled over again as the combative Waugh tussled with Denis Leamy for which Jonker wielded the yellow card at both players.
Rogers was also sin-binned though Australian fullback Chris
Latham was fortunate not follow for punching Leamy.
While Ireland had the one man advantage the Wallabies coped with it pretty well restricting the hosts to another O’Gara penalty to see the Irish extend their lead to 15 points from where there was no way back.
Ireland ‘outsmarted us’
Wallabies coach John Connolly admitted the hosts had outsmarted his team in windswept and rain-lashed conditions at Lansdowne Road.
The 55-year-old Connolly said that his side had not handled the driving rain and galeforce conditions as well as their hosts.
“I guess 6-3 in the second-half (the score) isn’t too bad,” said Connolly.
“However the Irish were outstanding in the first-half and handled the conditions really well.
Connolly said that it wasn’t for a lack of preparation that the two-time world champions had been found wanting.
“We talked about it and knew what to expect but we just didn’t handle them at all,” he admitted.
Australian captain Stirling Mortlock agreed.
“They were pretty tough conditions to play in but Ireland played better.
Mortlock said the Irish were becoming a tough nut to crack.
“They are a formidable team. They pushed us hard in Perth earlier this year and also the All Blacks on the same tour. They have a good lineout and their backs are very useful.”
Scotland now await Australia next weekend while the Irish will play their final game at Lansdowne Road — they will be at Croke Park while it is refurbished — against the Pacific Islands.