Bevan Rapson: Emerald Isle knows how to tie the kangaroos down, sport

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A dejected-looking Rocky Elsom. Photo / Dean Purcell
A dejected-looking Rocky Elsom. Photo / Dean Purcell

Shhh. Just listen for a moment. Can you hear it? That's the sound of quiet Australians.

Eerie, isn't it?

Our neighbours arrived here noisily cock-a-hoop, of course, and had their self-belief boosted even further by a comfortable win over Italy and the form of their brilliant playmakers Will Genia, Quade Cooper and Kurtley Beale.

Their pundits have wallowed in the Wallabies' growing favouritism and, as usual, taken delight in winding up the angst-ridden locals. In Queen St on Saturday the crowds in yellow exuded confidence while the crowds in green exuded mostly alcohol fumes and unbridled enthusiasm.

But at Eden Park, the Irish players proved they're not just here for the party.

And if the Australian fans were quietened by what unfolded on the field, the Irish made up for it, singing lustily in spite of the organisers' crazy decision to keep playing mindless music over the sound system.

How great would it be if the All Blacks supporters could find full, tuneful voice before the tournament is over - and not have to do it over the thumping bassline of some tired radio hit?

But back to Saturday night and a game that stands plenty of analysis, ideally within hearing of your favourite Australian cousin.

As expected "Boofhead" Cooper - hey, if you're given a name by Wallabies great Nick Farr-Jones, it deserves to stick - showed touches of genius. His electric combination with the spivvy-looking Beale is enough to give defensive coaches nightmares.

But once again Australia's scrum proved an anatomically dubious combination of soft underbelly and Achilles heel. Perhaps it didn't sled backwards quite as spectacularly as Japan's did on Friday but it creaked, twisted and fractured, depriving Australia's game of a solid foundation and Genia, in particular, of the chance to dictate the game.

After one scrum an Irish loose forward scragged the Wallabies halfback and carried him towards his own goal line like a parent with a misbehaving toddler.

For locals, the All Blacks' injury woes suddenly don't seem so alarming. The pricking of the Australian bubble is something to savour. And even the Warriors have come to the party, inflicting further pain across the Ditch.

The Australians will get their voices back, naturally. Normal transmission of yap and bluster will resume shortly.

But on the rugby field, something's gone missing. Never mind our Minister of Bad Manners, can Australia find a Minister of Mojo?

- NZ Herald

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