Irish brains beat Aussie brawn

Ireland 19 Australia 15

Up and down Ireland the club and schools coaches who helped produce this crop of youngsters will rightly claim some credit.

This could turn out to be a milestone for Irish rugby, an age grade squad whose vastly superior skill levels in the basic aspects of the game was more than enough to see off the challenge of a gigantic Wallabies side.

Ireland might not be able to match the physicality that comes off the southern hemisphere production lines but they showed last night at Stade de la Rabine that skill will always beat brawn.

The Wallabies apparently gave the Irish lads plenty of lip in the tunnel before the game but they were silent as they trudged out of the ground, knowing that the margin of victory should have been much greater.

Tighthead Adam Boland epitomised it all. He conceded a couple of dozen kilos to his opposite numbers but still out-scrummaged them in a magnificent display.

And Conor Joyce, a flanker of some class on the ground or with ball in hand, also manifested the difference in skill levels between the sides.

Tom Daly, a former Carlow minor footballer, led the way with 14 points and also forged a superb centre partnership with his Lansdowne clubmate Thomas Farrell.

Australia, who had a disastrous campaign in South Africa last year, threw their weight around initially before a seventh minute Daly penalty put Ireland into a lead they never surrendered.

The opening try came after 26 minutes after Ireland had failed to finish a few promising moves, but prop Boland came in at a good angle in midfield and when it went wide on the right Rory Scholes used Adam Byrne as a decoy before he dived over in the corner. Daly slotted the difficult conversion.

But the Wallabies struck back before the interval. UJ Seuteni landed a penalty and then lock Thomas Staniforth got over from a five-metre scrum to leave it 10-8 at the break.

Seuteni missed a penalty from 30 metres five minutes after the restart which would have put Australia ahead, but Ireland again took control and two more Daly penalties opened up a 16-8 lead after 67 minutes, which aptly reflected the difference in class between the sides.

But Ireland were caught for a breakaway try from Alex Northam, with the conversion from Luke Burton leaving it 16-15 with seven minutes left.

Suddenly, it looked as if a superb opening victory was going to turn into a nightmare as Australia piled on the pressure, but the Irish scrum and defence held firm and Daly sealed a famous win with a well-struck penalty — his fourth of the game.

Coach Mike Ruddock, now in his third year in charge and looking a man who is enjoying this every bit as much as when he led Wales to the Grand Slam, has already turned his attention to next Sunday’s clash with Fiji.

The Fijians were hammered 59-6 by the Baby Blacks in the second game in Vannes last night.

Ruddock said there is no danger of his young side taking anything for granted.

Victory on Sunday will set Ireland up for a clash against New Zealand next Thursday, with a potential semi-final place up for grabs.

Ruddock said that while they will enjoy their stunning win, their thoughts have turned already to Fiji on Sunday.

“We had a couple of the characters in the team give a victory speech and we sang the Fields of Athenry.

“But that’s it now. We’ll put a cap on that, we just need to move on and reflect on a good day’s work.

“It was very hot there, the boys lost a bit of weight out there in that heat and humidity. We’ll regroup and we’ll have a look at Fiji now.

“We won’t spend too much time celebrating,” he said.

Scorers for Ireland: Tries: Scholes. Cons: Daly; Pens: Daly (4).

Scorers for Australia: Tries: Staniforth, Northam; Cons: Seuteni; Pens: Seuteni.

IRELAND: R Scannell (Dolphin/Munster); A Byrne (UCD/Leinster), T Farrell (Lansdowne/Leinster), T Daly (Lansdowne/Leinster), R Scholes (Belfast Harlequins /Ulster); S Crosbie (Old Belvedere/Leinster), L McGrath (UCD/Leinster) (capt); P Dooley (Lansdowne/Leinster), G McGuigan (Newcastle Falcons/Exile), A Boland (Lansdowne/Connacht); P Timmins (UCD/Leinster), J Donnan (Ballynahinch/Ulster); C Joyce (Malone/Ulster), J van der Flier (UCD/Leinster), R Murphy (Dolphin/Munster).

Replacements: D Leavy (UCD/Leinster) for Murphy (36), R Furniss (Worcester Warriors/Exile) for Boland (54-64 blood), B Byrne (UCD/Leinster) for McGuigan (72), E Byrne (UCD/Leinster) for Dooley (72), D Leader (Galwegians/Connacht) for Scannell (75), S McCarthy (Shannon/Munster) for Timmins (80).

AUSTRALIA: J Placid; H Parker, L Foketi, U Seuteni, A Northam; J McIntyre, B Meehan; S Latu, M Ngauamo, O Hoskins; S Toleafoa, T Staniforth; M Wells, J Dempsey, C Browning.

Replacements: L Burton for Seuteni (61), A Alaalatoa for Hoskins (68), P Sio for Dempsey (68), P Paraka for Latu (68), A Ready for Ngauamo (70).

Referee: L Pearce (England).

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