Pocock inspires Wallabies to win against Ireland
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.
Wallabies lock Izack Rodda barks instructions at his pack.