TO GET within 30 points of Australia might have been deemed an achievement of sorts before the match, but certainly not after it. That Australia could win with laughable ease by the end despite playing well below themselves says much for their own high standards but little for Leinster.
The world champions could hardly have been afflicted with opening-night stage fright, more a case of understandable rustiness at the start of their 13-match tour of Ireland and Wales. But playing into the wind in the opening period, all they gave an adoring crowd of 15,000-plus was their typically tight-knit defence and the rolling maul.
Denied primary possession at the line-out, where their four jumpers of more than 6ft 4in struggled to make an impact, their famed backs made little inroads, relying on speed of hand alone to beat the tackle. Leinster played above themselves, and deservedly led 8-3 entering first-half injury time. But once David Campese opened his box of tricks in the second half with Australia's first try after 52 minutes, Leinster capsized quicker than a bullet-ridden dinghy.
Four further tries came rather too easily in a lopsided final quarter during which a rapidly tiring Leinster undid all their earlier good work by effectively throwing in the towel and, ultimately, the match left a slightly unsatisfactory taste in the mouth.
Two Campese breaks apart, Australia had not featured as an attacking force before Leinster's deserved opening try in the 13th minute. A superb take by Jim O'Callaghan and a towering up-and-under by Alan McGowan led to Martin Ridge winning the high ball; Gus Aherne, McGowan and Vince Cunningham combined to give Woods a run. The left wing spun 360 degrees in escaping Campese to score in the corner.
Marty Roebuck and McGowan exchanged penalties after the first quarter before an irreverent Leinster threatened to open some daylight between the teams. A quick ruck ball was spun along the line and Clarke opted to go for the gap as Campese covered Woods, only for Tim Horan to produce an outstanding try-saving tackle.
That was more or less Leinster's last throw. The Wallaby pack worked a rolling maul upfield and Roebuck kicked penalties either side of the interval to put them 9-8 ahead. The crowd were disenchanted by this, but the jeers turned to cheers when the Wallabies set up second- phase ball from a quick line-out to attack the blind-side, the excellent Horan taking three men with him to the touchline before sending Campese over the line.
Though 28 minutes remained the contest was over. All that remained was to see how many tries the Wallabies would add and, without ever extending themselves, they manufactured another four with characteristically delightful play.
Roebuck kicked a penalty and converted a try by the flanker David Wilson. Leinster managed an incursion into Australian territory from the kick-off for McGowan to land a penalty.
Campese popped up to take Michael Lynagh's flicked inside pass for the simplest of tries, and then Lynagh himself appeared on the left wing for another two tries. By now, Australia were taking the mick, but the hope remains that not every victory will come so easily.
LEINSTER: C Clarke (Terenure Coll); D O'Brien (Clontarf), V Cunningham (St Mary's Coll, capt), M Ridge, N Woods; A McGowan (all Blackrock Coll), F Aherne (Lansdowne); H Hurley (Old Wesley), J Murphy (Greystones), D Dowling (St Mary's Coll), B Rigney (Greystones), J O'Callaghan, K Leahy (both Wanderers), R Love (Old Wesley), P Lawlor (Bective Rangers). Replacement: S Byrne (Blackrock Coll) for Murphy (50 min).
AUSTRALIA: M Roebuck (NSW); P Carozza ), J Little, T Horan (all Queensland), D Campese (NSW); M Lynagh (capt), P Slattery (both Queensland); T Daly, P Kearns, E McKenzie (all NSW), R McCall, J Eales (both Queensland), W Ofahengaue (NSW), D Wilson (Queensland), T Gavin (NSW). Replacement: D Crowley (Queensland) for Daly (17min).
Referee: D Bevan (Wales).
Scorers: Woods (try, 13 min) 5-0, Roebuck (pen, 23 min) 5-3, McGowan (pen, 26 min) 8-3, Roebuck (pen, 40 min) 8-6, Roebuck (pen, 42 min) 8-9, Campese (try, 52 min) 8-14, Wilson/Roebuck (try/ conv, 61 min) 8-21, McGowan (pen, 63 min) 11-21, Campese/Roebuck (try/conv, 68 min) 11-28, Lynagh (try, 71 min) 11-33, Lynagh (try, 77 min) 11-38.Reuse content