Australia. . . .38
IF THIS was the best day to catch the Australians, then heaven help the team who meets them on the worst. Rusty was the operative word in describing the world champions' opening tour performance at Lansdowne Road on Saturday, but if they play their remaining 12 games as they played the last 50 minutes of this one then their target of a 100 per cent tour record will be a relative formality.
The only blot on their day was the back injury which has forced the loose-head prop Tony Daly out of the tour. Daly's injury has been diagnosed as a disc protrusion, which requires six weeks to heal, but he will remain with the Australian party rather than fly home. Matt Ryan has been named as the replacement.
Otherwise everybody seemed content. Bob Dwyer, the Australian coach, expressed himself 'delighted' with the way his team finished the match, while the Leinster captain, Vinny Cunningham, was 'delighted' with the way his team started it, which on the face of it, does sound a bit Irish.
True, Leinster played encouragingly well in the opening half-hour. The hooker John Murphy was the equal of the indomitable Phil Kearns around the paddock, to use Dwyer's favourite phrase: Jim O'Callaghan and Phil Lawlor gave the Wallabies' four 6ft 4in-plus men as good as they got in the line- outs and the scrum was a rock.
An 8-3 lead, given them by a Niall Woods try when he spun out of David Campese's tackle, and an Alan McGowan penalty to one by Marty Roebuck, was the least they deserved. But for a missed 20-metre penalty by McGowan and a vintage Tim Horan tackle on the Leinster full-back, Ciaran Clarke, who also hit the post with a drop goal attempt, it might have been 18-3.
But one felt that Leinster lapsed into a state of containment rather too readily once Roebuck landed penalties either side of the interval - Michael Lynagh having given up his place-kicking duties indefinitely to concentrate on the captaincy - and Campese had taken Horan's reverse pass for their first try after 52 minutes.
Afterwards, the Leinster players spoke of yellow jerseys coming at them in waves and from all angles as the Wallabies added four more tries in the final quarter. Their sleight of hand, angles of running and support play were, as usual, an example to all and they have taken the notion of cover attack to new dimensions in augmenting their famed cover defence.
Such is their innate self-confidence that once their forwards had established control up front with their rolling maul towards the end of the first half, they knew, as Lynagh revealed 'the scores would come'. It is difficult enough beating these Australians over 30 minutes, or even 60, but seemingly, nigh impossible over 80.
The tourists, augmented by Saturday's late arrival of full-back Tim Kelaher, following the death of his mother, now move on to Cork to face Munster in their second match on Wednesday.
Scores: Leinster: Try Woods; Penalties McGowan 2. Australia: Tries Campese 2, Lynagh 2, Wilson; Penalties Roebuck 3; Conversions Roebuck 2.
LEINSTER: C Clarke (Terenure); D O'Brien (Clontarf), V Cunningham (St Mary's, capt), M Ridge (Blackrock), N Woods (Blackrock); A McGowan (Blackrock), F Aherne (Lansdowne); H Hurley (Old Wesley), J Murphy (Greystones), D Dowling (St Mary's), B Rigney (Greystones), J O'Callaghan (Wanderers), K Leahy (Wanderers), R Love (Old Wesley), P Lawlor (Bective Rangers). Replacement: S Byrne (Blackrock) for O'Callaghan, 50.
AUSTRALIA: M Roebuck (New South Wales); P Carozza, J Little, T Horan (all Queensland), D Campese (NSW), M Lynagh (capt), P Slattery (both Queensland); T Daly (NSW), P Kearns, E McKenzie (both NSW),R McCall, J Eales (both Queensland), W Ofahengaue (NSW), D Wilson (Queensland), T Gavin (NSW). Replacement: D Crowley (Queensland) for Daly, 17.
Referee: D Bevan (WRU).Reuse content