Northern Ireland

Rugby World Cup: Ireland put Australia to the sword

Action from Ireland v Australia
Image caption Kurtley Beale of Australia challenges Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll

Ireland produced the most outstanding performance of the Rugby World Cup so far by beating heavily favoured Australia 15-6 in Auckland on Saturday.

Jonathan Sexton and Ronan O'Gara kicked two penalties each and Sexton also landed a drop-goal for Ireland.

Two James O'Connor penalties were all Australia could manage and they were left without even a losing bonus point.

Ireland almost snatched a late try but Tommy Bowe was caught just short of the line after a surging break from deep.

Replacement scrum-half Conor Murray did get over but the whistle had gone for an offside offence.

It was a fantastic forward display by the Irish and to deny Australia a score in the second half was a tremendous effort.

Even though the sides were tied 6-6 at the interval, Australia were still fancied to go on and get their anticipated victory.

'Dig deeper'

But Ireland grew in confidence and secured their first World Cup win over the Wallabies.

The Irish now aim to finish as Pool C winners and potentially set up a quarter-final clash against Wales.

"It is a performance we knew we had in us. We had to dig deeper than we had done in the last five games," said the skipper after Ireland's 15-6 victory.

"We will enjoy this, but let's not forget that we have two more games."

Ireland coach Declan Kidney also refused to get carried away with the victory.

"I was pleased with the way we went about out business. We managed to stifle a very good Australian side," he said.

"I think our scrum is getting a little stronger. We still have a little bit of work to do. The work really starts now."

He did, however, add: "It's the fifth time we have played Australia in the Rugby World Cup and you get a bit fed up with losing."

'Special day'

Paul O'Connell acknowledged it was a "special day", but also refused to get carried away.

Image caption Ireland's Sean O'Brien puts in a massive hit on Australian dangerman Will Genia

"Today we played to our potential," said the lock, who captained the Lions on their tour of South Africa in 2009.

"It's just a pool game for us. All the games from now on in are big games."

Australia coach Robbie Deans said: "Ireland were very effective. They defended really well and did not allow us to recycle the ball. It was effective.

"We would have liked more field position. Our decision-making was not always great."

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