A lacklustre Ireland slumped to a 15 – 32 defeat against a developing Australia who looked too classy for the bumbling boys in green at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday evening.
Ireland were outscored by four tries to nil with 12 of their 15 points coming from the boot of Jonny Sexton and the other three from the boot of, second half replacement, Ian Madigan.
Yet again it was a lot of travelling for me this week and I didn’t read the Ireland team until Saturday morning, only to find myself outraged by the non inclusion of Dan Tuohy – the in form second row in Ireland at the moment. It certainly gave me a few concerns about the credibility of any coaching side that opted to select Twerking Toner ahead of Dangerous Dan. The lanky Leinster player may divert a couple of lineouts your way but the scrums would suffer!
So it proved, with an uneven distribution of power in the second row, and O’Mahoney not helping things by hanging so loosely he contributed nothing, Ireland capitulated in the scrums with Ross bearing the brunt. What should have been Ireland’s strength became a liability giving the Aussies an out on the few occasions that Ireland managed to put them under pressure.
However to single out a couple of players is somewhat unfair as this was as poor an Irish team performance as I’ve witnessed. No confidence, no discernible tactics or game plan and surprisingly, with the likes of O’Connell, Best, Heaslip and O’Driscoll, on the pitch there was precious little leadership. Four past captains and not one of them looked interested in marshalling the troops and pointing them in the right direction!
Despite giving away two soft tries in the first half, with Cummins and Hooper crossing pretty much unopposed, Ireland worked their way back into the game with Sexton doubling up on two earlier penalties as Ireland made some headway once the impressive Hooper was yellow carded.
With the score at 12 – 15 at the break Ireland had everything to play for in the second half. Madigan was on for the injured Sexton and the exuberant youngsters lack of game time was exposed when Quade Cooper waltzed past for Australia’s third try minutes into the second half.
Cooper converted and added a third penalty shortly after to put the Aussie 13 points clear and in control of the game. Ireland came back with a Madigan penalty, but that was it. Luke Marshall made a couple of breaks but lacked support and Australia comfortably dealt with what, a rather limp wristed, Ireland threw at them!
Schmidt compounded some poor coaching decisions as he pulled off the front row just as Ireland were about to defend a lineout close to the line and it was no surprise that Australia took advantage to trundle over with alarming ease, Hooper touching down for his second and Australia’s fourth, putting the game out of reach with 10 minutes to go.
Despite losing Kuridrani to a red card with 8 minutes to go Australia held on for a fully deserved win.
Ireland: Rob Kearney, Tommy Bowe, Brian O’Driscoll, Luke Marshall, Fergus McFadden, Jonny Sexton, Eoin Reddan, Healy, Rory Best, Mike Ross, Devin Toner, Paul O’Connell, Peter O’Mahony, Sean O’Brien, Jamie Heaslip. Replacements: Rob Henshaw, Ian Madigan, Conor Murray, Sean Cronin, Stephen Archer, Mike McCarthy, Kevin McLaughlin, Jack McGrath
Australia: Folau, Ashley-Cooper, Kuridrani, Toomua, Cummins, Cooper, Genia, Slipper, Moore, Kepu, Simmons, Horwill, Fardy, Hooper, Mowen. Replacements: Tomane, Lealiifano, White, Ryan, Timani, Polota-Nau, Robinson, Gill