Player ratings: Irish eyes are smiling
There will be a few glasses of Guinness downed all over the world after Ireland produced their first-ever World Cup win over Australia – a 15-6 success in an enthralling Pool C arm-wrestle in Auckland on Saturday.
Suffocating the Wallabies’ free-running backs and denying them any quick, or quality, possession, through set-piece dominance, the Irish have thrown the 2011 RWC draw wide open.
Suddenly the three southern hemisphere giants – New Zealand, South Africa and Australia – will find themselves ion one half of the draw, while the Irish will fancy their chances against northern hemisphere rivals France and England on the other side.
Jan de Koning rates the Ireland players:
15 Rob Kearney:
He beat Beale in the air for the ball to set the tone for the match. While he had few chances on attack, he was rock-solid on defence.
14 Tommy Bowe:
There was a great restart collect and some very strong runs that tested the Wallaby defence – making well over 100 metres on his charges downfield.
13 Brian O’Driscoll (captain):
He was strong when running onto the ball that, which put Australian defence under pressure and on one occasion resulted in a penalty. While his space on attack was limited, he stood strong on defence.
12 Gordon D’Arcy:
He had a few runs, but often tended to crab sideways and did not make much ground. One of Ireland’s worst backs.
11 Keith Earls:
Had a good stepping run in the first half, but was mostly quiet in a very tight contest. Was solid on defence and made few mistakes.
10 Jonathan Sexton:
His goalkicking let his team down and his hands were not that great either. The best part of his game was his defence and some decent tactical kicking.
9 Eoin Reddan:
Bounced off Cooper and his passing wasn’t too flush either. One of the few weak links in the Irish team.
8 Jamie Heaslip:
Conceded a silly penalty at the breakdown, but made good yards with the ball in hand and was a monster at the contact area.
7 Sean O’Brien:
Some really strong carries throughout the game and immense work at the breakdown. Not only was he immense with the ball in hand, but he was the game’s best on defence. To think it was just his first RWC appearance.
6 Stephen Ferris:
Strong work off a scrum and won his team a turnover and – like the other loose forwards – played a big role in getting the team over the advantage line.
5 Paul O’Connell:
Struggled with his ball control early on, but then produced a great tackle on Horwill to earn a penalty – along with plenty of big carries. He was monumental for his team. A tower of strength in the line-outs as well.
4 Donncha O’Callaghan:
Worked hard in the contact area and close exchanges – did the donkey work, but was also quiet at times.
3 Mike Ross:
Worked hard in the close exchanges and had some decent carries, but it was at scrum time where he did most of his damage.
2 Rory Best:
His line-out throwing wasn’t too flash, but he worked hard at the breakdown and on defence.
1 Cian Healy:
Worked hard on defence in the early stages and won Ireland a penalty at the breakdown – not to mention his immense scrumming that won his team a number of crucial penalties.
16 Sean Cronin:
17 Tom Court (on for Mike Ross, 77th min):
Not enough time to be rated.
18 Donnacha Ryan:
19 Denis Leamy:
20 Conor Murray (on for Eoin Reddan, 57th min):
He was under pressure and his options put his team under pressure.
21 Ronan O’Gara (on for Gordon D’Arcy, 48th min):
Great clearance kick soon after coming on slotted a crucial penalty going into the final quarter. Added stability when Ireland needed it most.
22 Andrew Trimble (on for Brian O’Driscoll, 59th min, blood, and Rob Kearney, 74th min):
Not enough time to be rated.