IRELAND ……… 15 PTS
AUSTRALIA ………6 PTS
Ireland’s rugby team are heroes again after their biggest win since the Grand Slam success as they shocked Australia in Auckland.
Declan Kidney’s side took a huge step towards the quarter-finals at the Rugby World Cup with this huge result.
Australia were red hot favorites to win the Eden Park clash on Saturday but Brian O’Driscoll and the team in green had other ideas.
The Southern Hemisphere kingpins simply had no answer to a ‘put ‘em under pressure’ approach from Ireland that was straight out of the Jack Charlton style book.
The Irish were relentless in their commitment, passion and determination as their pack crushed the Wallabies and their defence stood firm.
Prop Cian Healy won the man of the match award after a fantastic effort from the Ireland scrum.
Sean O’Brien, Paul O’Connell and Stephen Ferris were just as awesome and just as physical in that Ireland eight.
O’Driscoll led by example as he tackled with a ferocity not seen in years.
And just when Australia were rooted to the Ireland line in search of a crucial late try, winger Tommy Bowe intercepted and ran the length of the field to relieve the pressure with a burst that didn’t produce a try but almost certainly won the game.
A quarter-final against Wales or Samoa, and a place on the easier side of the draw, now awaits Ireland if they beat Russia next weekend and then Italy in their final Pool games.
Ireland’s ninth win against the Aussies, in their 30th meeting, was fully deserved even if the pre-match loss of David Pocock and Stephen Moore proved critical for the losers.
Australia opened the scoring with an 11th minute penalty from James O’Connor but was the only time they led for the entire game.
Jonny Sexton then levelled for Ireland in the 15th minute with his first penalty then kicked them in front with a well taken drop goal within sixty seconds.
O’Connor then levelled it at 6-6 with the final score of the opening half on 23 minutes as the game developed into a real dogfight between the two packs with few try chances created by either side.
Sexton did struggle at times with his kicking but a 50th minute penalty set the tone for the dramatic finale as he restored Ireland’s lead.
An injury to Gordon D’Arcy saw Ronan O’Gara introduced with Sexton moving to the centre and it was O’Gara who sealed the deal with two penalties in the final quarter before that dramatic Bowe intervention as Australia sought the try that was always beyond them.
“It was the performance we always knew we had in us and we are delighted to win this one,” said a jubilant captain O’Driscoll afterwards.
“There were 58,000 fans in the stadium tonight and it seemed like we had 57,000 of them shouting for us.
“We know what it means to the Ireland fans at home and to Irish people all over the world. This means so much to everyone but the job is only half done.
“We’ve beaten Australia but we have two more games to win in this Pool and work to do before those games. We’ll enjoy this and build on it.”