WITH the talismanic Greg Inglis and Johnathan Thurston rested, Australia deliberately ignored some attacking opportunites to practice their structures ahead of the World Cup knock-out stages.
The 5212 crowd – poor by World Cup standards but a record high for an international in Ireland – probably didn’t hold out much hope for expansive play given the wet, cold conditions at the home Munster rugby union.
But when Australia winger Jarryd Hayne scored after a minute after some clever right-edge attack, the tournament favourites had every right to continue going there.
Instead, they rigidly stuck to a pragmatic attacking template they hope will carry them successfully through the quarters, semis and the World Cup final.
“It’s about playing well. Respect the opposition and play the game-plan you would if you were playing one of the so-called Big Three,” said coach Tim Sheens
“It’s a matter of playing the way you want and not necessarily the opportunities that are in front of you and that we were shown tonight at times.
“We were determined to keep it nice and tight and we designed a gameplan around our kick-and-chase and our defence.”
Ireland had a positive period, during which they attacked and defended with greater purpose and confidence, just after halftime. The couldn’t cross the stripe themselves but kept the Aussies out for 18 minutes.
For Australia, Daly Cherry-Evans second start in the halves was an unqualified success. He scored a well-taken kick-and-chase try, was handed man-of-the-match and must now be pushing for a utility bench spot in Sheens’ top side.
Winger Hayne’s early score from a Brent Tate break gave the impression of an avalanche of points but it never really got to that stage.
It was another 10 minutes befoe scrum-half Cooper Cronk snuck over from close range and a further 19 before Greg Bird, running a nice angle after a penalty – ticked the scoreboard over again.
Referee Phil Bentham’s insistence on fast rucks consistenty frustrated and upset the Wolfhounds and Australian tries often followed the shrill of his whistle/
Winger Brett Morris took advantage of a bouncing ball than landed in his arms and fullback Billy Slater found himself over the tryline – almost as an afterthough – after chiming into a well-executed backline movement.
The Irish were a different side after the break but when their defensive line did open, it was a gaping hole in centrefield for Melbourne’s Cronk to dash through.
The came Cherry-Evans’ score – he slid along the lush turf to reclaim his kick and dot down – interchange Andrew Fifita’s thundering run from 15 out, and Hayne’s second which closed the scoring.
Ireland coach Mark Aston and captain Liam Finn were almost ebulient despite the heavy defeat and a campaign which did not feature a victory.
“We got together three Saturdays ago and you could see that in our first couple of performances,” said Aston.
“I think we’ve got something like 20 teams domestically, as amateurs. The big challenge for them is rugby union in Ireland is massive, as we know, and this facility is jammed every week
“There;s 4* (rugby union) development officers in this area alone so how do you get them to play league?
“We’ve got to be smart. We’ve got to set academies up. We’ve got to hit those who don’t quite hit it for rugby union.”
Sheens did not think England and New Zealand likely playing each other in a semi-final would be an advantage in terms of intensity going into the November 30 final.
“In ’09 when we were over here for the Four Nations, we played New Zealand first, then England, then France,” he said.
“So far as the seedings were concerned, we went backwards but we still came out to win the competition.”
Sheens says he is likely to field his best 17 against the United States at Wrexham on Saturday and that one centre position, loose forward and prop are the positions causing him most angst.
DALY CHERRY EVANS: He’s not going to get a starting spot when the whips are cracking by DCE has done everything right against Fiji and Ireland. He executed Sheens’ conservative gameplan to perfections and scored a well-taken try.
GAMEBREAKER: When Jarryd Hayne scored after only one minute, the result was only going to go one way. Surprisingly, it came against the left side defence of Australians Josh Toole and Pat Richards.
TOP TACKLE: James Hasson pulled off a hit on Billy Slater that kept the local fans happy despite a big score in the second half. The Wolfhounds muscled up for long periods.
STORY OF THE GAME
1 Jarryd Hayne try………………………..4-0
Cameron Smith missed goal (0/1)…4-0
11 Cooper Cronk try…………………….8-0
Cameron Smith goal (1/2)………….10-0
30 Greg Bird try……………………………14-0
Cameron Smith goal (2/3)…………..16-0
31 Brett Morris try………………………..20-0
Cameron Smith goal (3/4)…………..22-0
39 Billy Slater try…………………………..26-0
Cameron Smith missed goal (3/5)…26-0
55 Cooper Cronk try……………………..30-0
Corey Parker goal (1/1)……………..32-0
59 Daly Cherry-Evans try………………. 36-0
Corey Parker goal (2/2)……………..38-0
64 Andrew Fifita try……………………….44-0
Corey Parker goal (3/3)……………..46-0
72 Jarryd Hayne try……………………….50-0
Corey Parker missed goal (2 from 3) 50-0
1. Billy Slater (Melbourne)
2. Brett Morris (St George Illawarra)
3. Josh Morris (Canterbury)
4. Brent Tate (North Queensland)
5. Jarryd Hayne (Parramatta)
6. Daly Cherry Evans (Manly)\
7. Cooper Cronk (Melbourne)
8. Paul Gallen (Cronulla)\
9. Cameron Smith (capt, Melbourne)
10. James Tamou (North Queensland)
11. Greg Bird (Gold Coast)
12. Sam Thaiday (Brisbane)
13. Nate Myles (Gold Coast)
14. Boyd Cordner (Sydney Roosters)
15. Robbie Farah (Wests Tigers)\
16. Andrew Fifita (Cronulla)
17. Corey Parker (Brisbane)
1. Scott Grix (Huddersfield)
2. Damien Blanch (Catalan)
3. Stuart Littler (Leigh)
4. Joshua Toole (Illawarra Cutters)
5. Pat Richards (Wigan)
6. James Mendeika (Warrington)
7. Liam Finn (capt, Featherstone)
8. Brett White (Canberra)
9. Rory Kostjsyn (North Queensland)
10. Anthony Mullaly (Huddersfield|)
11. Tyrone McCarthy (Warrington)
12. David Allen (Widnes)
13. Simon Finnigan (Leigh)
INTERCHANGE (all used):
14. Bob Beswick (Leigh)
15. James Hasson (Manly)
16. Ben Currie (Warrington)
17. Luke Ambler (Halifax)
Rugby Leaguer & League Express Men of the Match: Australia: Daly Cherry-Evans. Ireland: Brett White. Penalty count: 5-10. GLDO Forced: 2-0. 40/20s: 0-0.
Filed for: LEAGUE EXPRESS