Irish face stamping row

Ireland 64 Namibia 7

Ireland will launch a powerful legal defence to prevent Paul O'Connell being thrown out of the World Cup.

O'Connell, 24 on Tuesday, is facing the worst possible birthday present after Namibian coach Dave Waterstone blasted the second–row's 'unsavoury' second–half attack on Archie Graham.

Within the next 24 hours an independent citing commissioner will have to decide whether to haul O'Connell in front of a three–man disciplinary panel to answer stamping allegations.

Waterstone has already indicated his belief that O'Connell will face sanctions and if he is proved correct, the Munster forward is facing a recommended four–week suspension, which would effectively rule him out of the tournament.

However, Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan took a completely opposite view of the incident, which occurred during the second half of his team's 64–7 Pool A success at Aussie Stadium tonight.

"We have legal back–up if we need it but that is looking too far ahead just now," said O'Sullivan. There is a process to be gone through here and we haven't heard anything formal as yet.

"To be honest I am surprised by the Namibians' reaction. When the incident happened it looked innocuous. The touch judge and referee got together and decided it was a penalty but nothing more than that.

"Paul was at the front of a maul going up the field with his back to the Namibian line. He seemed to stumble over their player more than anything and I actually thought he was going to fall over, which could have been quite dangerous given the amount of weight going forward.

"He may have stepped on the lad but there was nothing malicious in it. He couldn't see where he was going. That is why we are so taken aback."

O'Connell put forward the same argument to Australian referee Andrew Cole when the incident was originally penalised, although that view brought a stinging response from Waterstone.

"If he didn't see our player he needs to join a Braille club because he went back to step on him a second time," he blasted. "It was a very thorough job and a pretty unsavoury incident. We normally don't cite people when we lose but I told Eddie O'Sullivan that we had to do it in this case because the incident was of such magnitude."

Waterstone will be eagerly awaiting the outcome of any hearing, which would be held during the early part of the week in Sydney, given his belief that match officials are favouring the bigger teams in the tournament.

He was expressly critical of Cole's handing of the encounter. "If you are a referee and you want the big appointments you have to suck up to the top nations. That is the way it is done."

While Waterstone must now rally his troops for what is almost certain to be a third successive hammering against Australia on Saturday, O'Sullivan has far more pressing concerns.

If O'Connell does end up being banned, Ireland are facing a potential second–row crisis for their vital encounter with Argentina in Adelaide next weekend.

Ulster's Gary Longwell has not played a single minute so far as he struggles to overcome a calf strain, which means Ireland could go into the Pumas encounter with just two specialist locks, including Donnacha O'Callaghan – who has yet to start a game for his country.

The Irish totally outclassed the tournament's weakest side. The flanker Alan Quinlan and the No 8, Eric Miller, scored two tries each while Girvan Dempsey, Denis Hickie, Marcus Horan, Guy Easterby, Shane Horgan and John Kelly also scored. The stand-off, Ronan O'Gara, kicked seven conversions.

Despite a torrential downpour, Ireland showed glimpses of the form that placed them fourth in the world rankings.

"I was very happy with that, 10 tries in those conditions is a pretty good return for a day's work," O'Sullivan said. "We were guilty at times of trying to do too much, so maybe we could have been a bit more clinical."

Ireland: Tries Quinlan 2, Dempsey, Hickie, Horan, Miller 2, G Easterby, Horgan, Kelly; Conversions O'Gara 7. Namibia: Tries Powell; Conversion Wessels.

Ireland: G Dempsey (J Kelly, 66); S Horgan, B O'Driscoll, K Maggs, D Hickie; O'Gara, P Stringer (G Easterby, 52); M Horan, K Wood (Byrne, 52), J Hayes (Best , 73), M O'Kelly, P O'Connell, S Easterby, A Quinlan, E Miller.

Namibia: R Pedro; D Mouton, D Grobler, C Powell (M Africa, 73), V Dreyer; E Wessels (M Schreuder, 62), H Husselman (N Swanepoel, 62); K Lensing, J Meyer (C van Tonder, 26), N du Toit (A Blaauw 61), H Senekal, A Graham, S van der Merwe, W Duvenhage (H Lintvelt, 66), S Furter.

Referee: Andrew Cole (Australia).

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