Australia ……………. 32

Ireland ………………. 15

Ireland took on Australia in the second game of Joe Schmidt’s tenure, after an average performance against Samoa. Where quality alone saw the Irish team cross the line and win by 40 – 12, Australia were to provide a much more potent test.

Ireland were seriously exposed defensively by Australia, who comfortably beat the struggling Irish side 32 point to 15. The game started with what would be an interesting kicking duel between Cooper and Sexton, both scoring penalties. As soon as Australia turned to attack, the Irish defence looked wanting. The Irish line was punctured easily by a series of quick offloads, and a string of missed tackles allowed winger Nick Cummins to race over for an early try. Quade Cooper knocking over the conversion.

The Irish team looked shell-shocked and were unable to deal with the Australian backline. The powerful Aussie runners drifted around a sluggish defence and Michael Hooper ran in an easy try. Ireland’s only answer came through Sextons boot, scoring another penalty to set the score at 6 points to 15. Ireland looked to get back into the game, as Hooper received a yellow card and the Irish pack started to drive into the opposition half. The Australians were punished for fouls and indiscipline at the break down, handing Sexton two penalties opportunities, which he converted to 6 points. At halftime Ireland weren’t out of it yet, with Australia on the back foot and the score standing at 12 points to 15.

Ian Madigan kicked off the second half in place of the injured Jonathan Sexton, but Ireland were again outclassed and over-run from the start. A Quade Cooper dummy pass fooled the Irish players, letting Cooper slip by the dismayed defence for a try. Cooper kicking the conversion and another penalty, Ireland’s only reply a solitary Madigan penalty.

The Irish performance in the second half was a disaster. Their attack was uneven and erratic, one moment looking promising, the next looking like schoolboys. Individual runs from Marshal, Kearney and McFadden threatened the Wallaby line, but the teams passing moves were mired in confusion and failure. Nothing seemed to go right, and soon the pack started to malfunction too, Hooper charged over unchallenged for a second try off the back of a maul.

The disappointing performance held no excuses, leaving Joe Schmidt with much work to do. The team lacked heart, work ethic and backbone, and something will have to change for next weekend. The All Blacks have only Ireland standing in the way of an unbeaten season and based on the Australian game, this Ireland team will be painfully put to the sword.

Team:

15. Rob Kearney

14. Tommy Bowe

13. Brian O’Driscoll

12. Luke Marshal

11. Fergus McFadden

10, Jonathan Sexton

9. Eoin Reddan

1. Cian Healy

2. Rory Best

3. Mike Ross

4. Devin Toner

5. Paul O’Connell (capt)

6. Pete O’Mahony

7. Sean O’Brein

8. Jamie Heaslip

 

Sean Cummins
Sports Editor