Sloppy Ireland humbled by rampant Wallabies
IRELAND 15 AUSTRALIA 32
Ireland were served up a rugby football lesson by classy Australia who cruised to a four-try success in Lansdowne Road.
Joe Schmidt’s side, in contrast, were shoddy and sloppy for much of the afternoon and they also lost Jonny Sexton to a hamstring injury before the break.
Sexton will now almost certainly miss next week’s visit of the All Blacks which takes on a foreboding look after this horror show.
And Rob Kearney must also be a major doubt after shipping a heavy knock in the final few minutes that forced his departure with suspected rib damage.
Ireland’s appalling home record now stands at just four wins from 12 matches and Kiwi Schmidt has a huge task on his hands to transform the international team on this evidence.
Little went right from the off.
Offered the chance to strut their stuff thanks to some loose Irish kicking, Australia edged into a ninth minute lead with a booming 45-yard penalty effort from in front of the posts from Quade Cooper.
Ireland’s lineout was poor early on but, when remedied, it provided the source of Ireland’s opening points, when a rumbling maul forced a penalty concession, from which Jonathan Sexton fired over unerringly to level matters.
Despite winning a scrum with a trademark choke tackle, Mike Ross lost his footing at the set-piece; mercifully, Cooper skewed his kick wide, a reminder that place-kicking represents a keen weakness in his game.
Cooper made amends soon though, as he was central to a blistering attacking move that exposed a soft centre in Ireland’s defence, as both Stephen Moore and tryscorer Nick Cummins easily defied poor tackle attempts.
Cooper’s conversion made it 10-3 and Sexton then missed a howler from in front of the posts before Australia demonstrate their thrilling talent with another scintillating try.
Again, they blasted holes in a porous narrow Irish defence by switching to the shortside, back-rowers Scott Fardy and Michael Hooper through the forwards, the visitors were forced to cough up another penalty and this time Sexton made no mistake on the half-hour as he made it 6-15.
Openside Michael Hooper was binned as referee Chris Pollock grew impatient with repeat infringements deep in their 22 and Sexton reduced the margin by a further three points as Ireland finished the half strongly.
Another penalty conceded this time by Stephen Moore allowed the Ireland out-half to limit the half-time deficit to just three points but the Racing Metro playmaker left the field in agony after pulling his hamstring.
Australia almost scored a try after the break but Cummins was denied by the TMO.
However, they did score their third try after 46 minutes, inevitably Cooper was central, dodging Luke Marshall and replacement Ian Madigan in midfield to skip under the posts.
Even the experienced players were having their shocking moments, Rob Kearney’s butterfingers allowing Cooper to slot a penalty to assure them a 25-12 lead, a determined response from the team who had, unusually, remained on the pitch for during the interval.
Madigan offered Ireland some hope with a 57th minute penalty as Conor Murray arrived to replace Eoin Reddan but in reality Ireland were clinging on for dear life as errors in all departments mounted.
To compound the indignity, when Ireland failed to score from a lineout maul close in, Australia powered over with one of their own to move 32-15 ahead as the fans started darting for the exits.
Tevita Kudrani was red carded for a dangerous tackle on Peter O’Mahony late in the piece but by then his departure was irrelevant.
The benches were soon emptied; so were the seats. The Joe Schmidt era may take some time to bear fruit. The All Blacks are next.
Ireland: R Kearney (R Henshaw 75); T Bowe, B O'Driscoll, L Marshall, F McFadden; J Sexton (I Madigan HT), E Reddan (C Murray 57); C Healy (J McGrath 70), R Best, S Cronin 66), M Ross (S Archer 66), D Toner (M McCarthy 70), P O'Connell (captain), P O'Mahony, S O'Brien (K McLaughlin 71), J Heaslip.
Australia: I Folau; A Ashley-Cooper (J Tomane 58), T Kuridrani, M Toomua, N Cummins; Q Cooper (C Leali'lifano 70), W Genia (N White 67); J Slipper (B Robinson 70), S Moore (T Polota Nau 69), S Kepu (P Ryan 67), R Simmons, J Horwill (S Timani 57), S Fardy, M Hooper (, L Gill 73), B Mowen (captain).
Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)