Tuesday 6 December 2016

Carried away on a green tide

Published 25/12/2011 | 05:00

Stephen Ferris takes Will Genia for a walk

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September 17, Eden Park, Auckland. The pivotal tie in Pool C, between favourites Australia and Ireland, is in its 38th minute when Wallaby scrumhalf and playmaker Will Genia feeds a scrum 30 metres from his own line.

The score is tied 6-6, and a lot has gone wrong for both teams. The Wallaby lineout is misfiring, with absent hooker Stephen Moore badly missed; they can't upset Ireland's supply of ball at the breakdown, because they don't have David Pocock; and their scrum is starting to creak.

The underdogs, meanwhile, are playing the game mostly in the right areas of the field, but Jonny Sexton has missed two shots on goal and doesn't look at all happy.

Both sides are desperate for some sign of affirmation. Ireland will get it at the scrum. It wheels gently enough in Ireland's favour, and the Aussies need to act fast.

There is a split second when it looks like number eight Radike Samo will do the decent thing and bail his scrumhalf out of trouble, but already Genia has his foot planted and is reaching to fetch and pass. You could feel the trap about to close.

On one side was Eoin Reddan, peering in over the top of Samo and knowing exactly what was going to happen next, for certainly Reddan has been on the wrong end of something similar himself. On the other side, behind Genia's back, Stephen Ferris was already slipping his bind and moving in for the kill.

As soon as Genia touched the ball, it was all over for him. Or, more appropriately, the nightmare was just beginning. Typically in this situation the victim gets clobbered and buried, and either the ball is turned over or a scrum results with the ball being turned over anyway.

What happened next, however, was a turbo boost to Ireland's effort. Ferris and Reddan got a drive on Genia, which suddenly turned into the flanker picking him up and carrying him back towards the Australian line. Well, running with him more like.

When you watch it again, focus on the scrumhalf's expression.

By the time Ferris put him down, the Ireland pack had steamrolled in behind and the crowd -- many of them well-oiled Kiwis in 40 shades of green -- were on their feet roaring their approval. Half-time followed just over a minute later and the Ireland side were swept off to the dressing-room, still high from the moment.

Brendan Fanning

Sunday Indo Sport

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