Mon, Oct 20, 2003 - Page 19 News List

Ireland passes Aussies to lead Pool A

RUGBY WORLD CUP The win provided a maximum 10 points from its first two matches, taking the Irish past Australia and leaving Namibia without a point

AP , SYDNEY ANDCANBERRA AUSTRALIA

Denis Hickie runs through the Namibian defenses for Ireland's second try during their World Cup Pool A match at Aussie Stadium, Sydney, Sunday.

PHOTO: EPA

Ireland's vaunted backline sputtered in the Sydney rain Sunday but the Six Nations runner-up still managed to thrash World Cup whipping boy Namibia 64-7 with loose forwards Alan Quinlan and Eric Miller both scoring twice.

The victory at Sydney's Aussie stadium gave Ireland a maximum 10 points from its first two games, taking it ahead of Australia to lead Pool A and leave Namibia without a point in its two outings and having conceded a total of 131 points.

Namibian captain Sean Furter wasn't daunted by the prospect of facing defending champion powerhouse Australia in the next match at Adelaide on Saturday.

"We'll just wait and see," he said. "Take out the mistakes and see what we can do."

Ireland captain Keith Wood paid tribute to the Namibians.

"They should be very proud of the way that they played today. They put in a lot of heart and effort but I thought at times our skill level was very good and we got the tries we wanted," the front row said.

Ireland should have scored more but committed repeated handling errors due to the rain-slicked surface and poor passing by the backs.

Ireland opened the scoring in just the third minute when flanker Quinlan peeled off a rolling maul and charged over and Ronan O'Gara slotted over the conversion.

Ireland's second try came in the 9th minute when star center Brian O'Driscoll's powerful run sucked in the Namibian defense and fullback Girvan Dempsey drove over.

Ireland's most capped winger and top international try scorer, Denis Hickie, who crossed twice in Ireland's opening match against Romania, scored the third Irish try, carving through the flimsy Namibian defense and sliding over in the corner in just the 14th minute.

Scorers

* Ireland 64 (tries -- Alan Quinlan (2) 4th, 51st, Eric Miller (2) 35th, 65th, Girvan Dempsey 10th, Denis Hickie 14th, Marcus Horan 33rd, Guy Easterby 59th, Shane Horgan 70th, John Kelly 77th ; conversions -- Ronan O'Gara (7) 4th, 14th, 33rd, 35th, 59th, 65th, 77th)

* Namibia 7 (tries -- Corne Powell 39th; conversions -- Emile Wessels 39th)

* Halftime: 33-7


Namibia's work was made even harder in the 20th minute when second rower Heino Senekal was sinbinned for 10 minutes by Australian referee Andrew Cole for collapsing an Irish maul, but the Africans managed to stem the Irish scoring while Cole was off.

But in the 31st minute prop Marcus Horan flopped on a ball dropped over the tryline by Namibia's Corne Powell and television ref Kelvin Deaker awarded him his first ever international try. Horan was only in the side for injured prop Reggie Corrigan.

The Irish charge continued when captain Wood took a quick penalty allowing No. 8 Miller to score under the posts in the 35th minute.

Namibia's only points came two minutes later when scrumhalf Hakkies Husselman took a quick tap and Schalk van der Merwe juggled the ball before flicking a pass to center Corne Powell who thundered over the line from close range. Emile Wessels converted to make it 33-7 at half time in front of 35,382 fans.

Wales 27, Tonga 20

One-time captain Martyn Williams came off the bench to score a try and a drop goal on Sunday to help Wales to a shaky 27-20 World Cup victory and deny determined Tonga its dream of making the quarterfinals.

Tonga, which scored three tries to Wales' two, now faces the unlikely task of beating New Zealand and Canada in the next 10 days, and earning a bonus point along the way, if it is to reach the next stage.

But while Wales left the field with the points, the Tongans earned a standing ovation from the mainly Welsh crowd of 19,806 after testing the more fancied Wales for the full 80 minutes.

"To come out play really badly against Italy was really frustrating and the boys have shown how well they can play,'' said Tonga's regular captain, Inoke Afeaki, who suffered a knee ligament injury against the Italians. ``It was awesome."

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