Rugby: Ireland overwhelm Wallabies

By Michael Brown

Will Genia of the Wallabies is tackled by Donncha O'Callaghan, Paul O'Connell and Mike Ross of Ireland. Photo / Getty Images
Will Genia of the Wallabies is tackled by Donncha O'Callaghan, Paul O'Connell and Mike Ross of Ireland. Photo / Getty Images

Ireland 15
Australia 6

New Zealand has never been a particularly happy hunting ground for the Irish but tonight that all changed and they turned the World Cup on its head in the process.

Ireland are now favoured to win Pool C, probably condemning Australia to a quarter-final clash with South Africa, and opening their channel perhaps even to the final.

Everyone had been predicting a New Zealand-Australia final but that now seems impossible.

Ireland won on the back of a dominant forward pack, aggressive and organised defence and impassioned and controlled play. They rarely threatened Australia's line - Tommy Bowe came closest with an intercept two minutes from time - but their own wasn't crossed either and they often scrambled brilliantly.

They found reserves they might not have known existed as they were roared on by a terrific and vocal crowd.

Before last night, Ireland had won only two games in New Zealand and one of those was last weekend against the US and the other a unmemorable win over Canada at the 1987 World Cup.

They will rate their chances of claiming a handful more in the coming weeks and can look forward to the easier side of the draw.

Australia will now have to take the hard route to the final and their ability to handle pressure is once again under question.

Quade Cooper is a fabulous footballer and there are few who can touch him in full flight, but he tried the audacious out of hand and foot when it needed a cool play.

They committed too many turnovers and became frustrated as the match progressed.

Ireland showed Cooper how to play.

They gave the ball some air at times, more than most might have expected of them, but they also knew when to kick long and recycled well to build pressure.

There will also be some serious concerns about Australia's scrum, which was demolished by Ireland. The men in green drove low and won the hit and they also forced a number of turnovers as the Wallabies went into contact areas too high.

It wasn't necessarily a match of great quality and referee Bryce Lawrence' constant and premature blasts on the whistle meant the game rarely found any fluidity. But it was absorbing and will be the most talked about game so far.

Australia still haven't won at Eden Park for 25 years and this defeat will seriously effect their ability to win the Big Prize.

Instead, Irish eyes are most definitely smiling.

Ireland 15 (Jonathan Sexton 3 penalties, dropped goal, Ronan O'Gara penalty), Australia 6 (James O'Connor 2 penalties). HT: 6-6.

- APNZ

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