Tue, Nov 21, 2006 - Page 18 News List

Impressive Ireland team outmuscles the Wallabies

NOW NO. 2 A week after beating the Springboks, the Irish were once again too good for a Southern Hemisphere opponent in wet and windy conditions


Ireland dominated Australia 21-6 on Sunday and posted successive rugby Test wins over Southern Hemisphere opposition for the first time.

Following an equally impressive 32-15 defeat of South Africa eight days before, Ireland's forwards outmuscled the Wallabies in rain and wind at Lansdowne Road and allowed flyhalf Ronan O'Gara to set up the two-tries-to-nil victory.

O'Gara had a big hand in both Irish tries for winger Denis Hickie and fullback Geordan Murphy, and kicked over 11 points.

Australia captain Stirling Mortlock nailed two penalties as the Wallabies look like finishing another poor European tour.

"I thought we were outstanding, we held onto the ball and didn't give them possession to play with," Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan said. "We were rewarded with two excellent tries."

Mortlock, playing at inside center for the first time in 52 Tests, put Australia ahead after three minutes with a penalty. It was the only time the Wallabies led during the entire match.

Mortlock missed another penalty two minutes later and after that it was almost all Ireland.

Murphy thought he had crossed over in the right corner but the video referee ruled Wallabies flanker Rocky Elsom stopped him short and O'Gara earned Ireland's first points with a penalty.

Hickie caught O'Gara's crossfield kick and stepped inside three Australians to score the first try in the 25th minute.

O'Gara couldn't convert it but the bad news piled on for Australia when flyhalf Stephen Larkham was forced off through injury and replaced by Mat Rogers.

Larkham took a knock to the head and was fine after the match, Wallabies coach John Connolly said.

Right on halftime, Ireland sank Australian hopes when it won an Australian throw-in and O'Gara's break in a loop around Brian O'Driscoll was finished by Murphy. With the conversion, the Triple Crown holders led 15-3.

"O'Gara, O'Driscoll and [Gordon] D'Arcy knew how to play the weather," Connolly said. "We don't play in conditions like that back home -- and they knew what they were doing, keeping hold of the ball and wearing us down."

"All the damage was done in the first half and that try just before halftime knocked the wind out of us. They're a great team with a massive work rate," he said.

Mortlock kicked over his second penalty early in the second half but O'Gara soon restored Ireland's 12-point lead with his second penalty.

A fight between opposing flankers Phil Waugh and Denis Leamy, joined by Rogers, ended with all three in the sinbin.

O'Gara's third penalty near the hour capped the scoring at 21-6 and sealed Ireland's first win over Australia since 2002. Only five months ago, Australia won 37-15 in Perth.

"We scored more than 30 points against them in the summer and today they beat us by a few," Connolly said.

Ireland finishes its autumn program against the Pacific Islanders next Sunday.

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