IN a mere 80 minutes the excitement surrounding the Irish rugby team came to a shuddering halt. After a comfortable victory over Samoa expectations were high that Ireland could defeat Australia. In the end the Irish were no match for an Australian team that oozed class throughout the game.
The game started slowly as Quade Cooper and Johnny Sexton exchanged penalties in the opening minutes. Australia scored the first try of the game through winger Nick Cummins as Quade Cooper began to put his mark on proceedings.
The Wallabies extended their lead minutes later as flanker Michael Hooper coasted through some slack Irish defence to put them 15-3 ahead. After 25 minutes Ireland were in real trouble. The final 15 minutes though saw them rally.
With Hooper sent to the sin bin Ireland scored nine points through the boot of Johnny Sexton to cut the deficit at half time to three points. However Ireland’s hopes of victory were dashed as Sexton limped off with a hamstring injury.
Indeed it was Australia who landed the opening blow in the second half as Cooper ghosted through more weak Irish defending. Cooper and Ian Madigan, who replaced the injured Sexton, traded further penalties.
The game was effectively ended as a contest when Australia scored their fourth try in the 67th minute. They mauled their way over the Irish try line to leave the score at 32-15.
Ireland gallantly tried to raise a gallop in the final moments of the game but could not penetrate the Australian defence. It was a disappointing game for Ireland where nothing seemed to go right.
Their defence was far too passive for the duration of the game. Any time Australia had possession they looked like scoring. In stark contrast the Wallabies dealt with Ireland’s attacking efforts comfortably.
The biggest worry for Ireland was how quiet their big names were. The likes of Paul O’Connell, Jamie Heaslip, Brian O’Driscoll and Tommy Bowe struggled to get into the game.
On the other hand, Australia had big performers all over the pitch. Israel Folau was simply majestic under the high ball catching everything in sight. Quade Cooper directed the Australian back line like Mozart conducted his finest orchestra. Ireland had no answer for the Australian talisman.
Up front Stephen Moore and Michael Hooper carried with purpose whilst Ben Mowen topped the tackle charts with 13 tackles.
It is not all doom and gloom for Ireland. After all, it is only Joe Schmidt’s second game in charge. It does not get any easier though as the mighty New Zealand are up next on Sunday.
Out of the frying pan and into the fire.