By Mark Jones
DUBLIN — Ireland’s ambition of reaching the semifinals of the rugby World Cup was left looking farfetched after a dismal performance against one of the
tournament’s favorites at Lansdowne Road.
This much hyped game turned out to be a damp squib as Irish coach Warren
Gatland admitted that his team had failed to fire a shot. Australia didn’t have to be remotely near their best and still they emerged comfortable victors and now they are eyeing a quarterfinal against Wales in Cardiff.
Ireland, meanwhile, have a final pool match on Friday against Romania and should they win, they go on to a quarter-final play-off against probably either Canada or Samoa in Lens, northern France. Success there and Gatland and his players return to Dublin for a quarter-final against France.
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So, following this display which was as disappointing as it was energy-sapping, many of the Irish are now facing a punishing schedule of three matches in the space of ten days.
"We let ourselves down," said a subdued Gatland, "Australia put us under a great deal of pressure and they forced errors. We were well beaten, it was a very disappointing performance."
What was galling was the Irish had managed to go in at half-time only 6-0 in arrears. Australia had failed to use the advantage of a strong breeze, but while they moved up a gear after the interval, Keith Wood and company failed abysmally to raise their game.
Eventually, the pressure told and the winners scored tries by Tim Horan and Ben Tune to close out the match. Ireland for their part, never looked like scoring a try and a penalty by out-half David Humphreys was all they could muster.
To make matters worse, flanker Trevor Brennan is also facing a suspension after he was involved in a punch-up with Australia’s Toutai Kefu. Meanwhile, Kefu and his teammate Daniel Herbert have also been cited for foul play.
The U.S. had a great chance of beating Romania in their pool game, but they couldn’t sustain a strong second-half comeback and lost narrowly 27-25. New Zealand laid down a marker with a masterful 30-16 win over England at Twickenham.