Australia 18-9 Ireland
So the Three Test Series in Australia has started in defeat for Ireland who have been beaten 18-9 in Brisbane. Ireland will be disappointed to have been defeated in a game that they dominated in possession and territory. Ireland struggled in defence throughout the game and were very guilty of being caught out wide on several occasions. Robbie Henshaw got caught cold twice in the opening half and was rescued by some good covering work by Jacob Stockdale and Keith Earls.
From an Australia point of view, they used the high ball tactic to great effect against Ireland where Israel Folau dominated the air against the Irish back three where he beat Rob Kearney in the air several times. Australia welcomed David Pocock back from his time on sabbatical and he turned over the ball on many key occasions and this was crucial in stopping Irish momentum. Ireland selected Joey Carbery at 10 and while he started well and kicked three penalties from 4 attempts he will be disappointed that when it mattered he struggled to find touch when it was needed.
In attack Ireland showed some deft touches and created two clear chances in the game that they failed to convert those chances fell to CJ Stander and Conor Murray , firstly Stander made a clean line break and failed to get the ball down after he rolled to place the ball , Dane Haylett Petty did very well to get his body under the ball and make sure Stander didn’t get the ball down.
Then Murray made another break as the defence was fixed on the newly introduced Jonathan Sexton and as he broke clear, the Aussie defence managed to scramble back and snuff out the chance. A couple of issues arose during the game the defence needs to be sorted as Australia found it easy to break down the up and in line speed quite easily. The partnership of Henshaw and Aki made need to be revised for the second Test where the introduction of Gary Ringrose may just ignite the faltering attack that didn’t get going in the First Test.
On a positive note, the Irish line out worked out and the hard work of Henderson and James Ryan was a sight to behold. Rob Herring will hold his place for the second Test after his display. Ireland held their own at the break down even though the returning Pocock and Hooper made it a real struggle for Ireland to get any real go forward ball and this in turn made it tough for Murray and Carbery to get Ireland moving forward.
Australia will be delighted to make it 1-0 in this Series having been beaten 3-0 by England in 2016. From there perspective they will only get better as the next two games come along. From an Irish perspective they will make a few changes next week to try and freshen things up. There passing will need to be much crisper and they will need to make the most of the chances that come their way.
Australia again proved that you don’t need to own all the ball to win a Test match. The only Irish win in Brisbane in 1979 will stand alone for another few years and hopefully this sobering experience will tell Ireland that they need to be much sharper to get a win down south. This Test Series is not gone yet and all it will take is Ireland being more clinical when they get into the opposition 22. They didn’t win the Grand Slam in March by any fluky means but that word consistency crops up again and Ireland will now need to find a real top quality performance to level up the Series and take it to a Third game decider.
Cian Mc Gibney