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Ireland stun Australia

Ireland defied all expectations by summoning a performance of controlled ferocity to stun Australia with a 15-6 triumph and place one foot in the World Cup quarter-finals.

The Irish stormed to the summit of Pool C by winning the group's pivotal match against the Tri Nations champions and tournament second favourites at Eden Park.

Jonathan Sexton kicked two penalties and a drop as Ronan O'Gara weighed in with six points in Ireland's finest World Cup display, while James O'Connor scored two first-half penalties for the Wallabies.

Ireland possessed the two dominant forwards on the pitch in Paul O'Connell, who was outstanding once again, and the unstoppable Stephen Ferris. Sean O'Brien became increasingly influential as the match unfolded, while tighthead Mike Ross led the rout of the Wallaby scrum.

O'Connor was successful with his second shot at goal after Ireland's scrum had collapsed five metres out, the only time they were troubled at the set-piece.

The disappointment of Sexton sending a penalty wide was soon forgotten as Rory Best produced a cute offload to Brian O'Driscoll, who burst into space. Ireland's captain was soon brought down but his side had won a penalty and this time Sexton was on target.

The score sparked a superb spell from Ireland with O'Connell, Rob Kearney and Keith Earls making inroads before Sexton landed a drop goal to nudge his side 6-3 ahead, although O'Connor got the Wallabies back on level terms with a second penalty in the 23rd minute.

Ferris and O'Brien went on the rampage to put the Irish back on the front foot as the match continued to be balanced on a knife edge. The two backs rows were prominent once more as Ireland drove deep into Australia's half, winning a penalty which Sexton sent between the uprights.

Gordon D'Arcy limped off in the 49th minute, so on came O'Gara at fly-half with Sexton moving to inside centre. It was becoming all too easy as Australia's scrum collapsed once more and O'Gara, who had taken over the kicking duties, made no mistake.

The Wallabies' weakness at the set piece was killing them and Ireland struck once more, O'Gara landing his second penalty. Ireland had the final say, however, when Tommy Bowe intercepted and ran nearly the length of the pitch only to be caught just short of the line.


From Belfast Telegraph