Rugby Union: Srauss's solo performance

Australia 46 Ireland 10
Click to follow
The Independent Online
TIAAN STRAUSS, nicknamed "The Lion of the Kalahari" as a result of a slightly disturbing penchant for grappling with fully-grown wildebeest during his farming days in South Africa, did not appear to find the Irish much of a challenge as he set about taming the tourists at Ballymore. Happily resettled in Australia after falling out of favour with the Springbok selectors, Strauss played the last half-hour of yesterday's First Test and promptly helped himself to three tries in the space of 13 minutes. It will not always be this easy, if only because the Wallabies will not always outclass their opponents to such an embarrassing degree.

To be brutally honest, the Irish could hardly be described as big game; indeed, they were virtually dead meat before Strauss had a chance to flex his hunter's biceps. Australia were 20-3 to the good when their latest back-row import took the field and, with George Gregan wreaking havoc at scrum-half, the former Bokke captain merely had to go with the flow in launching his one-man assault on the scoreboard. However, the dynamism he showed in taking the Wallabies from the 20s to the 40s suggested he might play a key role in this autumn's World Cup.

The Irish had promised a handling game based around David Humphreys' impish talents at stand-off and the startling pace of their new outside centre, Brian O'Driscoll. To his credit, O'Driscoll delivered everything that could have been asked of him on his Test debut, plus a little more; Kevin Maggs' late consolation try was entirely down to the 20-year-old's elusive approach work. But in general, it was the same old blarney: plenty of huff and puff up front, precious little direction behind.

At least Warren Gatland, the Irish coach, removed Peter Clohessy from the fray before Andre Watson, the South African referee, did the job for him. Clohessy was involved in a nasty spat with Ben Tune, the Wallaby wing, early in the second half; the rough and ready Munster prop contributed a misdirected boot to the proceedings and collected a bunch of fives for his trouble. He then collared the outstanding Gregan with such excessive venom that Watson reached for the yellow card. Sadly, Tune did not survive his little contretemps with "The Claw" and may miss next weekend's Second Test in Perth.

Maggs and Paddy Johns were also yellow-carded, as was the Wallaby captain David Wilson, but it was not a particularly fiery encounter - certainly, it did not match up to the so-called "Battle of Munster" in 1992, an all-out war in which Clohessy featured prominently. However, Gatland was clearly exasperated at the latest disciplinary problems. "You can't do any more than keep hammering home the message that discipline is vital," he said afterwards. "Then again, there's an ultimate price for players who do silly things on the field. They get dropped." Gatland will take a close look at the video before deciding whether to stick with his best, but most troublesome, loose-head.

Saddled with a rookie outside-half in Nathan Spooner and a revamped tight five, the Wallabies took an age to raise a full gallop, although Tune's scintillating 15th-minute opener was an ominous reminder of Australia's weaponry. Humphreys reduced the deficit with a penalty three minutes later, but Spooner, who landed seven from 10 and looked a perfectly adequate stand-in for the injured Steve Larkham, replied in kind before converting early second-half tries from Wilson and Daniel Herbert. That flurry put the home side almost out of sight and once Strauss found his feet in his new surroundings, they quickly disappeared over the horizon.

Australia: C Latham; B Tune (Queensland), D Herbert, T Horan (all Queensland), J Roff (ACT); N Spooner (Queensland), G Gregan (ACT); D Crowley (Queensland), J Paul, P Noriega (both ACT), T Bowman (NSW), D Giffin (ACT), M Cockbain, T Kefu, D Wilson (all Queensland, capt). Replacements: T Strauss (NSW) for Kefu, 46; J Little (Queensland) for Tune, 47; A Blades (NSW) for Crowley, 48; J Williams (ACT) for Cockbain, 70; N Grey (NSW) for Giffin, 79.

Ireland: C O'Shea; J Bishop (both London Irish), B O'Driscoll (University College, Dublin), K Maggs (Bath), M Mostyn (Buccaneers); D Humphreys (Dungannon), T Tierney (Garryowen); P Clohessy (Young Munster), K Wood (Harlequins), P Wallace (Saracens), P Johns (Dungannon), J Davidson (Castres), D O'Cuinneagain (Sale, capt), V Costello (St Mary's College), A Ward (Ballynahinch). Replacements: R Corrigan (Lansdowne) for Clohessy, 51; M O'Kelly (St Mary's College) for Johns, 51; D Corkery (Cork Constitution) for Costello, 59.

Referee: A Watson (South Africa).

Comments