Gregan puts the spring back into the Wallabies

Australia 45 Ireland 16
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Trailing 14-13 at half-time, Ireland looked to be in with a real chance against the Wallabies in Perth. But then Australiastarted playing rugby, leaving the Irish to keep making the errors. The try tally was six to one, and the crowd must have been wondering how Australia had lost in Ireland last November.

The answer is that they were two very different teams then, and that conditions were appalling. Yesterday they were perfect, as they will be when the two teams clash in October's World Cup. Even with the likes of Brian O'Driscoll returning, it's hard to give Ireland a real chance. This was a bad beating.

Ireland must learn that mistakes are punished at the top level, as four Australian tries came from their errors. Ireland did lead 3-0 with an early David Humphreys penalty, before Peter Stringer allowed George Gregan in for the game's first try. Fly-half Elton Flatley converted.

Ireland then lost four line- outs on their own throw. But Australia lost five of their own in the first half, and allowed Ireland to go 10-7 in front when wing John Kelly looped around Humphreys to score. The No 10 converted.

But Ireland's mistakes quickly came back to haunt them. Within two minutes Flatley had crossed for Australia's second try, and then added the conversion. Yet still Ireland remained in the match, a high tackle by Toutai Kefu on Keith Gleeson providing Humphreys with a second penalty for 14-13.

But then, after Flatley had kicked a penalty, Girvan Dempsey was yellow-carded 12 minutes into the second half for killing the ball. In his absence, Australia scored twice. First Toutai Kefu picked up from a scrum for centre - and brother - Steve Kefu to score a converted try.

Ronan O'Gara kicked a penalty for Ireland, but Australia extended their lead as Gregan scored again. Flatley nailed the conversion. Dempsey should have scored on his return, following a superb pick-up and pass from Geordan Murphy, but a superb tackle from Flatley stopped him just short. Then the Wallaby full-back, Chris Latham, ran 75 metres for another try, which Flatley converted. Ireland's woes increased as Reggie Corrigan, substituted earlier, was forced to return for Marcus Horan.

Replacement wing Lote Tuqiri then drove Dempsey back ferociously, and Flatley had the line at his mercy. But when Kelly stumbled into his back, causing him to fall, referee Nigel Williams awarded a penalty try. Flatley's conversion meant that neither team had missed a shot at goal.

But that was one of the few things that Ireland got right on an evening which showed that a significant gap still exists between them and the leading rugby nations.

Australia 45 Ireland 16
Tries: Gregan 2, Flatley, Try: Kelly
S Kefu, Latham, penalty try
Cons: Flatley 6 Con: Humphreys
Pen: Flatley Pens: Humphreys 2, O'Gara

Half-time: 14-13 Attendance: 39,787

Australia: C Latham (Queensland Reds); W Sailor (Queensland Reds), M Turinui (NSW Waratahs), S Kefu (Queensland Reds), J Roff (ACT Brumbies); E Flatley (Queensland Reds), G Gregan (ACT Brumbies, capt); B Young (ACT Brumbies), J Paul (ACT Brumbies), P Noriega (NSW Waratahs), N Sharpe (Queensland Reds), D Giffin (ACT Brumbies), D Lyons (NSW Waratahs), T Kefu (Queensland Reds), G Smith (ACT Brumbies). Replacements: L Tuqiri (NSW Waratahs) for Sailor, 55; B Darwin (ACT Brumbies) for Noriega, 58; D Vickerman (ACT Brumbies) for Sharpe, 60; B Cannon (NSW Waratahs) for Paul, 72; P Waugh (NSW Waratahs) for Smith, 72; C Whitaker (NSW Waratahs) for Gregan, 72; N Grey (NSW Waratahs) for S Kefu, 77.

Ireland: G Dempsey (Leinster); J Topping (Ulster), G Murphy (Leicester), K Maggs (Bath), J Kelly (Munster); D Humphreys (Ulster, capt), P Stringer (Munster); M Horan (Munster), S Byrne (Leinster), R Corrigan (Leinster), G Longwell (Ulster), M O'Kelly (Leinster), A Quinlan (Leinster), V Costello (Leinster), K Gleeson (Leinster). Replacements: R O'Gara (Munster) for Humphreys, 16-22, 40; E Byrne (Leinster) for Corrigan, 50; P O'Connell (Munster) for Longwell, 60; Corrigan for Horan, 70.

Referee: N Williams (Wales).