Ireland have caused the first upset of the World Cup in beating Australia 15-6 at Eden Park on Saturday.
Ireland played to the inclement conditions and its forward pack had the wood over its Australian equivilant which was missing David Pocock and Stephen Moore who both withdrew before the game. The loss of the influential Pocock and front rower Moore was evident as the Australians were bullied by the Irish who showed a lot more desire.
Jonathan Sexton kicked two penalties and a drop goal while the experienced Ronan O’Gara came on to kick two as Ireland went top of Pool C.
The win goes a long way to securing top spot in the pool. The match against Italy is the only major hurdle in the way of the Irish and the top spot, which will ensure an easier Quarter-final.
The loss means Australia will most likely move to the other side of the draw. Meaning they will face South Africa in the Quarters and the possibility of a juicy match against main foe New Zealand in the Semi-finals.
Australia started the match well, and went ahead after 11 minutes when James O’Connor slotted home a penalty. Irish fly half Sexton then went to work, kicking over a penalty and a drop goal within two minutes.
O’Connor levelled the scores with 15 minutes remaining in the half and the sides went to the break at 6 all.
In the second half, Australia seemed to forget about the conditions and went about playing their usual attacking football. But the tactic did not pay off and three more penalties to the Irish gave them a 15-6 lead.
Despite all the points coming from the boot, the match was an exciting contest. Genia, Cooper and Beale were all dangerous. Genia’s darts from the ruck lead to many chances, but as was the Australian’s night, they could not be converted into points.
Ireland went close twice in the closing stages. Tommy Bowe was superbly denied by O’Connor and another chance was turned down by Bryce Lawrence. But the damage had been done and Ireland will walk away confident they can go all the way.
Pens: O’Connor 2
Pens: Sexton 2, O’Gara 2
Drop goals: Sexton 1