Rugby Union: Australia lose fight and match

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The Independent Online
Munster. .22 Australia. .19

IT WILL not matter one whit to the 7,000 or so Munstermen who shook the earth under Musgrave Park yesterday that the world champions fielded their second- string XV. That was Australia's gamble, and no one should have known better than them the foolhardiness of their ways.

Twice before at this same venue, Australia suffered defeats at the hands (and boots) of Munster, in 1967 and 1981. Given their stated desire to win all 13 tour matches, Australia ought to have appreciated that Munstermen are an infinitely tougher breed (as the All Blacks of 1978 will also testify) than their Leinster counterparts, against whom Australia fielded their full- strength side last Saturday.

No doubt aware of Munster's machismo reputation, David Nucifora's team saw the challenge as a test of their Australian manhood, but in meeting force with force, and fist with fist, they lost their discipline, the line-outs, the fight and the match.

Eight minutes from time, as they protected a half-time lead of 19-10 that had been reduced to three points, the Wallabies became embroiled in a nasty, unmerciful and uncontrollable free-for-all. At the end of it, Australia's Garrick Morgan was unluckily dismissed along with Munster's Michael Galwey by a French referee, Marc Desclaux, who had long since lost control. Both players were later suspended for four days from today.

The Australian coach, Bob Dwyer, who had vacated his seat to try to calm his players down, singled out the abrasive Munster tight-head Peter Clohessy as the agent provocateur, calling him 'a disgrace'. Inevitably, that will sound like sour grapes, though Dwyer added: 'That should not detract from the fact that Munster deserved to win.'

Australia had secured a winning platform in the first half after Tim Kelaher kicked four penalties out of four to Charlie Haly's two from three. When Australia then conceded a 36th-minute penalty try after a third successive collapsed scrum, Troy Coker singlehandedly picked up his team with a surging 40-yard drive, which led to Tony Herbert giving Kelaher the try- scoring pass.

The full-back converted for a personal haul of 19 points, but then buckled under a torrent of garryowens in the second half. Haly kicked two more penalties, the heat generated by the fisticuffs uplifted Munster spirits on and off the pitch, and Australia wilted.

Two towering touch kicks by Brian Walsh secured the platform from which Haly first levelled with another penalty and, after the inspired Ben Cronin had won the line-out, the replacement stand- off Jim Galvin landed the decisive 80th-minute drop goal, heralding a subsequent pitch invasion to rival those of '67 and '81. Those who fail to learn from the mistakes of history are apt to repeat them.

Munster: Penalty try; Conversion Haly; Penalties Haly 4; Drop goal Galvin. Australia: Try Kelaher; Conversion Kelaher; Penalties Kelaher 4.

MUNSTER: C Haly (Cork Constitution); R Wallace (Garryowen), P Danaher (Garryowen), B Walsh (Cork Con), J Clarke (Dolphin); D Larkin (Garryowen), D Tobin (Young Munster); P McCarthy (Cork Con), T Kingston (Dolphin, capt), P Clohessy (Young Munster), M Galwey (Shannon), R Costelloe (Garryowen), G Clohessy (Young Munster), G Earls (Young Munster), B Cronin (Garryowen). Replacements: J Galvin (Shannon) for Larkin, 20; E Sullivan (Old Crescent) for Costelloe, 65.

AUSTRALIA: T Kellaher (Randwick); D Smith (Southern District), T Herbert (GPS Queensland), R Tombs (Suburbs), D Junee (Randwick); P Kahl (Eastern Dist), A Ekert (Gordon); C Lillicrap (Queensland Univ), D Nucifora (Queensland Univ, capt), D Crowley (Southern Dist), G Morgan (Southern Dist), W Waugh (Randwick) M Brial (Eastern Suburbs), S Scott-Young (Southern Dist), T Coker (Southern Dist). Replacement: E McKenzie (Randwick) for Crowley, 55.

Referee: M Desclaux (France).

(Photograph omitted)