Ireland defeat keeps Wallabies on the road to irrelevance – The Irish Times

Times have rarely been as tough for the Australian rugby team. Far from the soothing spring sun at home, they lost their third test match on the trot in Dublin, a week after a humiliating and historic one point loss against Italy.

Any Irish rugby fan might imagine that a vitriolic press pack will be waiting down under demanding answers from the coaching staff and players when they land back home. However, so far, the Australian scribes have chosen a gentler approach with the wounded Wallabies, who are struggling more than ever to find a foothold in a country that cares far more about its heroes in cricket, rugby league, Australian rules and latterly football.

The Sydney Morning Herald is one of the few publications in the country that still gives rugby a strong billing on its back pages and their writer Tom Decent praised the Wallabies’ tenacity in a tight test match and lauded Ireland as a World Cup prospect next year in France, with the headline: ‘Wallabies’ hearts broken again as Ireland snatch late victory.’

“The Wallabies punched above their weight, even until the dying minutes when victory looked out of reach and will come away from Dublin with their heads held high because few people expected them to challenge an Ireland side who are a shot at winning next year’s World Cup .

“This wasn’t a classic Test but there were plenty of smiles inside the stadium. They just weren’t Australian smiles. In 2018, under Michael Cheika, the Wallabies managed just four wins from 13 Tests. We’ll get a chance next week to find out whether this is the worst Wallabies side, statistically speaking, since 1958 (in years where 10 or more Tests have been played).

“It will be a long week in Cardiff of more soul-searching and wondering what could have been.”

The Guardian Australia’s columnist Daniel Gallan was struggling to find answers from a Wallaby outfit that often dominated possession in Dublin, but struggled to convert their field position into points.

“At one point in the first half Australia held the ball for 21 phases inside Irish territory. The ball went left then right then left again before they coughed it up and conceded a penalty on the floor. Ordinarily a team with that much possession would grow in confidence, assured in the belief that they’d be leaving the red zone with points on the board. Not Australia. They seemed to panic as the phases mounted. The straight arm of referee Ben O’Keeffe almost came as a relief.”

Australia’s former outstanding center Tim Horan told Australia’s Channel 9’s Sports Sunday television show that coach Dave Rennie needs to find a settled Wallaby line-up to stand any chance of upsetting the odds in France next year.

“I think he (Rennie) has to pick and stick now. We saw in the Test match against Italy last week he made 12 changes to the team. This weekend he made 11 changes.

“So this side hadn’t played for a couple of weeks to get that continuity, especially when you are one year out from a Rugby World Cup. We have positions that we are not sure how to fill. One more test left on this tour against Wales. He has to pick and stick and find this team to get some continuity for the World Cup in a year’s time.”

Chief rugby writer of The Roar, Christy Doran, was bloody after another Wallaby defeat on the road in Europe.

“Even in Ireland, eventually the Wallabies’ luck was going to run out. Brave as they were in defence, the Wallabies were their own worst enemies at Lansdowne Road as discipline once again proved to be their Achilles heel as Ireland claimed a late 13-10 victory.

“The Wallabies had the chance to kick a late goal, but they instead kicked for the corner and gave away a penalty. It was, as Ireland coach Andy Farrell described it, the Australian way.’”

Fox Sports Australia has rugby union listed so low down its list of sports on their homepage banner that it’s now below ice hockey. Their headline from the game pulled no punches: “Injury chaos as wounded Wallabies lose FIVE to fall to Ireland in 54-year first”.

The Wallabies go into the final game of their European tour against Wales on a losing streak, riven with injuries and perhaps saddest of all, struggling to be relevant to Australian sports fans.


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