Wallabies maintain proud tradition

 

Not even the most ardent native would dispute Australia's success in last night's Schools' international at a rain sodden Ravenhill. Victory ensured that a proud tradition was maintained for the visitors - never losing a match on Irish soil.

In conditions far removed from what they are used to, the Australians made light of the bleak conditions displaying an assurance of handling to which their hosts could only aspire.

The Australians carried the ball with menace, the powerful physiques of Josh Mann-Rea, Ashley Elphinston, David Lyons, Junior Pelesasa and Tui Talaia cutting a swathe through the Irish defence and but for some valiant, last ditch tackling the disparity on the scoreboard would have been even more pronounced.

The difference in physique was most evident in rucks where it required far fewer Australians to secure possession. It was also their ability to get the ball away in the tackle that stretched Ireland to breaking point and allowed the Australians to bring greater fluidity to their play.

Lyons and Elphinston drove at the heart of the Irish midfield, the remainder of the pack sweeping over and the ball was moved away quickly: the Australians looked to play the game at a high tempo using powerful wing Peter Playford at every opportunity.

That they managed just three tries may be attributed to a lack of control and patience at times inside the Irish 22 and some excellent defence inspired by the Irish back-row of Denis Leamy, Neil McMillan and Shane Jennings.

Their only weakness was in the lineout where they suffered a sizeable turnover of possession: Henry Bourke experienced considerable difficulty in bypassing Australia's twin peaks, Daniel Heenan and Cameron Treloar.

Despite two excellent breaks by scrum-half Pat McCarthy, Ireland kicked away far too much possession, largely ill directed and sadly displayed a paucity of imagination and variation behind the scrum. They appeared somewhat sharper with the introduction of Gavin Duffy in the centre but even then they never managed to make a decisive cut, both tries being attributable to Australian errors.

The home side were quicker to settle, forcing the Australians to concede two penalties in quick succession. Unfortunately McCarthy failed to avail of either opportunity from 30 and 24 metres respectively, his second attempt striking an upright.

Ireland were guilty of porous defence in the 12th minute when some brittle tackling allowed Australian left wing Playford to race 35 metres before giving a scoring pass to flanker Ashley Elphinston who negotiated the short distance to the line. Paul Warwick snatched at the conversion.

The visitors continued to apply pressure and the Irish line enjoyed a charmed life on a couple of occasions. On an irregular foray into the Australian half Ireland capitalised superbly on 28 minutes. McCarthy's speculative high kick was misfielded by fullback Talaia and a five metres scrum ensued.

Jennings and McCarthy displayed slick hands to send flanker Leamy over unopposed. The CBC Cork scrum-half converted.

Ireland appeared to have survived to the interval only for disaster to strike three minutes into injury time.

Initially they defended superbly from a five-metre scrum, forcing an Australian turnover but from the ensuing scrum Donal Crotty's clearance was charged down. The third scrum in the sequence saw Lyons and Paul Sheedy charge to the open-side but cleverly George Smith was already touching down having scooted round the short side. Warwick converted to give the Australians a 12-7 advantage.

This they increased on 44 minutes with a try from Warwick after number eight Lyons had demolished Ireland's midfield defence. The centre posted the conversion. Warwick's 12-metre penalty on 57 minutes after Talaia was pulled back removed any lingering doubt as to the outcome.

Ireland received some consolation on full-time when they pounced on an Australian turnover on the Irish 22. Replacement scrum-half Eoin Reddan snapped up possession, Duffy carried on the move before releasing St Michael's wing Fiachra Baynes. He outpaced the cover over 36 metres for a fine score. Paul Drew missed the conversion.

Scoring sequence: 12 mins: Elphinston try, 0-5; 29: Leamy try, McCarthy conversion 7-5; 38: Smith try, Warwick conversion, 7-12. Half- time: 7-12. 44: Warwick try, conversion, 7-19; 57: Warwick penalty, 7-22; 69: Baynes try, 1222.

Ireland: P Drew (Blackrock); J Norton (St Mary's), K Lewis (St Mary's), C O'Sullivan (PBC Cork), F Baynes (St Michael's); D Crotty (Belvedere), P McCarthy (CBC Cork); B Young (Ballymena Academy), H Bourke (Clongowes), J Montgomery (Blackrock); A Maher St Joseph's, Galway), G Brown (RS Armagh); D Leamy (Rockwell), S Jennings (St Mary's), N McMillan (BRA). Replacements: G Duffy (Roscrea) for Crotty 52 mins; E Reddan (Crescent) for McCarthy 67 mins.

Australia: T Talaia; M Schleibs, J Pelesasa, P Warwick, P Playford; T Donnelly, P Sheedy; G Hardy, J Mann-Rea, A Mathison; D Heenan, C Treloar; A Elphinston, D Lyons (capt), G Smith.

Referee: D Davies (Wales).