Out-of-sorts hosts suffer further World Cup agony
Ireland 24 Australia 36
Ireland might have thought missing out on a semi-final place at their own World Cup was the worst thing that could happen, but things unravelled even further yesterday with a heavy defeat to the team they beat in the first round.
Ireland have simply found it impossible to gain traction at this tournament and a move north to Belfast for the second leg of this World Cup didn't bring any sudden improvement in their form or make them tackle any better.
It all means a seventh-place finish is now the best they can hope for. Their last game of a disastrous tournament will be against Wales on Saturday and they must win to ensure automatic qualification for the next World Cup.
The hosts made their traditional strong finish, with tries from Sophie Spence and Paula Fitzpatrick at least putting some respectability on the scoreboard.
Missed tackles was again a massive factor as the physicality of the Wallaroos' punched serious holes straight up the middle.
"We were on the back foot and if you miss too many tackles and concede yards after tackles, it's going to be a very long day and that's what it was against a physical, direct, Australian team," admitted head coach Tom Tierney.
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"Obviously conceding points as well... 36 points is a lot to concede and we're very disappointed by that. It just leads to a scoreline where it's all doom and gloom, that's the nature of sport. It's not the first time Ireland has done poorly in a World Cup and make no bones about it we've done poorly."
The loss of Claire Molloy and Jenny Murphy to concussion early on hurt their chances, but the first-half malaise of recent games was a feature of their play again and they trailed 19-12 at the break.
Sharni Williams caught Ireland short of cover out wide for an easy score in the eighth minute, but the Irish did respond. Their driving maul worked a treat and Ailis Egan inched over at the fourth attempt, Alison Miller finally able to show what she can do to put the hosts 12-5 up after 18 minutes.
That was as good as it got.
Australia responded with two tries in a six-minute spell, Sarah Riordan and tighthead Hilisha Samoa finishing from a yard.
Millie Boyle and Mahalia Murphy ran in tries four and five but Ireland managed a good five-minute spell of sustained late pressure, Spence and Fitzpatrick scoring consolation efforts.
Ireland - Tyrrell; Galvin, Murphy, Naoupu, Miller; Stapleton, Cronin; Peat, Moloney, Egan; Cooney, O'Reilly; Griffin, Molloy, Fitzpatrick. Reps: Lyons, van Staden, O'Connor, Spence, Caplice, Muldoon, Fitzhenry, McLaughlin.
Australia - S Treherne; N Marsters, S Riordan, S Williams, M Murphy; A Hewson, K Barker; L Patu, C Campbell, R Clough; A Hewett; M Boyle, C Butler, C Hamilton. Reps: E Robinson, V Tupola, H Ngaha, M Gray, K Brown, F Hake, K Sauvao, T Pomare.
Ref - I Tempest (RFU)