Wood looks towards France, Gregan relieved


World Champions Australia overcame a fired-up Ireland 17-16 in a game reminiscent of their 1991 World Cup quarter-final to win their final pool A encounter today.

Australia, never fully convincing, now meet Scotland in the quarter-finals in Brisbane next week. Ireland, who like their opponents had already qualified for the last eight but now face a tougher passage, will stay in Melbourne awaiting pool B winners France nest weekend.

"We were very close to winning it," said Ireland captain Keith Wood. "But we have a quarter-final next week and we are not going to be too hung up. Perhaps we'll get the chance of revenge later in the tournament."

His Australian counterpart George Gregan responded: "We were happy to pull through. They put us under a lot of pressure. It was a pretty good effort but there's lots of areas to improve. We hung in there."

France manager Jo Maso said his side would have to work hard to prepare for their match against the Irish next Sunday. "We are not pleased to be playing the Irish," Maso told l'Equipe website.

"We'll have to work on our lineouts so we have as clean a throw as possible because the Irish are very strong in that area. They seem very well prepared and they are ready for battle.

"But we are not afraid and we have our strengths as we have shown in our pool matches." France coach Bernard Laporte said it had been "a huge game" by the Irish.

"They totally destabilised the Australians and the Australian forwards were not in the game. Who would have thought that the Irish could pose such problems for the Australians?" he said.