Po­cock in­spires Wal­la­bies to win against Ire­land

Sunday Star-Times - - ALL BLACKS V FRANCE - TOM DE­CENT

An in­spi­ra­tional per­for­mance from a re­turn­ing David Po­cock has helped the Wal­la­bies draw first blood against Ire­land with a 18-9 vic­tory that has crushed the world No.2 side’s 12-game win­ning streak.

Michael Hooper’s men have en­sured their 39-year un­beaten run on Aus­tralian soil against the Ir­ish re­mained in­tact with a two tries to zero re­sult that was fin­ished off by a late five-pointer to Po­cock in the 72nd minute.

In front of 46,273 fans at a lively Sun­corp Sta­dium, the Wal­la­bies came from one point down to get their 2018 in­ter­na­tional cam­paign off to the best pos­si­ble start low-scor­ing af­fair last night.

Po­cock’s pres­ence at the break­down was un­mis­tak­able but so too was that of Ire­land’s big men, par­tic­u­larly in at­tack. The high­light was a turnover from Po­cock af­ter 19 phases where the Wal­la­bies looked gassed down their own end.

There was, how­ever, ma­jor drama in the 61st minute when an Is­rael Fo­lau try was dis­al­lowed be­cause of in a al­leged foul play, which prompted for­mer Wal­laby and Fox Sports com­men­ta­tor Phil Kearns to claim: ‘‘The ref­er­ees have lost the plot.’’

Adam Cole­man was pe­nalised for tack­ling Ire­land sec­ond-rower James Ryan, who did not have the ball. Hooper ar­gued the act had no bear­ing on the try but ref­eree Mar­ius van der Westhuizen replied: ‘‘The re­al­ity is it’s foul play’’.

The Wal­la­bies had to re­gather and did so cour­tesy of their big men. They earned a rare scrum penalty, to the fist-pump­ing de­light of Michael Cheika, which Bernard Fo­ley kicked to put them ahead 11-9 with 11 min­utes re­main­ing.

Be­hind closed doors, the non­s­e­lec­tion of Sex­ton and a num­ber of other Ire­land stars riled up the Wal­la­bies and this lack of re­spect was re­flected in a dogged Aus­tralian ef­fort across the full 80 min­utes.

There was a real phys­i­cal­ity about the first 15 min­utes. Hooper’s bon­er­at­tler on rookie No.10 Joey Car­bery’s put him in the hurt locker but he re­turned to his feet to solider on. With Sex­ton wait­ing on the bench, there was am­ple cover.

The home side’s tack­ling ef­fi­ciency was also markedly bet­ter than last year. At half-time, Aus­tralia had made 95 per cent of their tack­les.

The

Sun-Her­ald

GETTY IMAGES

Wal­la­bies lock Izack Rodda barks in­struc­tions at his pack.

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