Ireland’s stunning 15-6 win over Australia is just what the Rugby World Cup needed. And it is no more than the Irish deserved for producing a magnificent performance at Eden Park.
There is nothing more boring in sport than knowing who is going to win every match in the opening stages of a major tournament. And while we have had a few close calls for the favourites so far, this was the first upset. Where Wales failed to take their chance of upsetting South Africa in a thrilling 17-16 defeat last weekend, not helped by being denied a penalty that clearly went over the posts, there was no way the Irish were going to let the Wallabies off the hook.
Intriguingly, if Ireland can now win Pool D they will expect to play either Wales or Samoa in the quarter-finals and that will give them a great chance of reaching the final four for the first time.
Two penalties and a drop goal from Jonathan Sexton and another two penalties from Ronan O’Gara proved decisive as the Irish pack, and their scrum in particular, secured the of the great wins in the history of Irish sport.
“It was the performance we knew we had in us,” said jubilant Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll, who was thrilled with his team’s performance and the amazing support of the traveling fans. But the skipper insisted: “It’s just half the job done. As much as we’ll enjoy this, let’s not lose sight there are two more games.”