Ireland shut out on big night
Ireland's big night at Thomond Park fell victim of a ruthlessly on-song Australia side who were in no mood to hand out any favours and wrapped up their World Cup Group A campaign with a 50-0 win.
Mark Aston's Wolfhounds headed into the heart of rugby union country when they walked out at Munster's famous arena, with the chance to spread the word of their sport to the Irish people never greater.
But although winning was never likely to be on the cards, Ireland would have hoped to have at least put on a competitive show and sow the seed for any future generations who may have been watching in a promising crowd of 5,021.
The Kangaroos snuffed out any of their aspirations, though, recording their third successive win in the preliminary stages to ready themselves for a quarter-final against the United States next weekend.
They ran in nine tries in total on a night when the difference between the game's haves and have-nots was highlighted, with Australia doing their damage without the likes of the rested Darius Boyd, Greg Inglis, Matt Scott and Johnathan Thurston.
It all made for a tough evening for the Irish, whose coach had told them on the eve of the fixture that now was the time to live their dream.
The reality was they found themselves trapped in a nightmare inside the opening 120 seconds as Jarryd Hayne went in at the corner for Australia after fine centre play from Brent Tate.
They then coughed up a drop-out and four penalties in quick succession, with the last of them giving Cooper Cronk the position he needed to make a run for the line. Club team-mate Cameron Smith slotted the conversion.
Ireland managed a period of relative calm after that but as the clock approached 30 they let in a third try, with errors at the root of it. They should have been on the attack after a Pat Richards intercept got them going, but Tyrone McCarthy knocked on in the next play and Australia quickly went in through Greg Bird.
It would be the first half of a triple-whammy before the break too.
Three minutes later Brett Morris was able to glide in untouched as Daly Cherry-Evans tipped a Smith kick in his direction. Then, on the stroke of the hooter, Billy Slater slipped in for his 20th international try.
The start of the second half at least brought out some Irish resistance and every foray forward was greeted heartily, especially when Richards charged after his own kick ahead - only for the ball to run out.
Their effort lacked an end product, though, which was something Australia were not short of, as Cronk displayed when he finished off a move with a scything run through the posts. With Smith taking a breather, Corey Parker goaled from bang in front to move his side 32-0 ahead.
Although Cronk is Tim Sheens' first-choice scrum-half, Cherry-Evans has been doing his best to stake a claim on the shirt but, as fine as his solo try on the hour was - Australia's seventh of the night - he will be expected to start on the bench against America.
That merely underlined the amount of options available to the Green and Gold coach, though, and the Irish must have wished to have been playing a weaker team, especially when substitute prop Andrew Fifita barreled over, with Parker again on the money with the extras.
Hayne then helped himself to another in the corner, with his effort adding some symmetry to an easy night's work for Australia.