Wallabies cruise to top of Pool A

Date published: September 27 2015

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Australia moved top of Pool A with the biggest win of the World Cup so far, downing Uruguay 65-3 at Villa Park on Sunday.

After Wales' comeback win over England, Australia continued to ease into the competition, scoring 11 tries against the pool's weakest side.

The difference in size and physicality was evident from the off, and the Wallabies ran in five tries in the first-half, with the outstanding Sean McMahon getting them off the mark.

Joe Tomane and Dean Mumm crossed either side of a sin-binning for Quade Cooper before Henry Speight's first Test try sesaled the bonus point.

There was time for one more try before the break from Ben McCalman as Australia led 31-3 at the break, Felipe Berchesi getting the lone penalty for los Teros.

Drew Mitchell scored two tries early in the second-half, with McCalman and McMahon also completing braces, and Matt Toomua and Tevita Kuridrani chipping in with tries late on.

The Wallabies are now top of the pool ahead of their two key clashes with England and Wales. A win at Twickenham next Saturday would guarantee them a spot in the last eight, almost certainly ending the hosts' chances in the process.

While they were far from perfect, McMahon was particularly impressive, unlike Cooper, who did little to convince Michael Cheika that he should start against England.

Australia broke the first tackle on each of their first two charges, and they should have had the first try after just five minutes. A quick lineout saw Kurtley Beale away down the left. He didn't have the legs to go all the way, and Mitchell couldn't collect his inside pass, with a free run-in had he done so.

It made little difference though, two minutes later they were over, McMahon taking on David Pocock's role in the maul and then peeling off to score sprint over untouched on the blindside. Cooper's conversion was wide but Australia led 5-0.

There was no question it was going to be a one-sided affair, and Australia had their second almost from the restart. The impressive McMahon started it, breaking through tackles and going past halfway. The ball was then spread wide where Beale kicked through. Cooper was first on it before finding Tomane outside him for the score. Cooper added the conversion from the other touchline as the Wallabies took complete control.

While Australia were completely dominant, they then lost fly-half Cooper to a needless yellow card. With Uruguay on the attack, he caught Agustin Ormaechea round the neck before throwing him to the ground. For a player desperately trying to prove a point to Cheika, it was a disastrous error, although Uruguay were unable to take advantage after kicking for the corner, with their maul going nowhere against the Australian defence.

Despite being a man down, Australia continued to look the more dangerous side, however Uruguay did get their first points of the game through a Berchesi penalty after Will Skelton had tackled a man without the ball.

As soon as Cooper returned, Australia were over again. Mumm was the man to cross on this occasion, collecting Nick Phipps' delayed ball before handing off Leandro Leivas and dotting down. Fresh from his ten-minute break, Cooper missed the conversion from the right.

And the bonus point came after 31 minutes when Australia again opened up space out wide, with Skelton's half-break then setting up the Wallabies to go through the hands, the final pass coming from Mitchell to Speight. Côoper converted to make it 24-3.

The next try didn't take long, another carry from Skelton seeing the ball spready quickly. Cooper drifted left before finding McCalman on his shoulder to go clean through. From in front Cooper added the easy extras.

Uruguay started the second-half strongly, with a couple penalties kicked to the corner setting them up in good position. Unfortunately their lack of physicality was a major issue, and Australia were able to keep them at bay relatively comfortably.

Australia, on the other hand, were much more clinical. On their first attack of the half, Mitchell produced a mazy run, stepping out of two tackles before powering his way over, although the two men free outside him would have been fuming had he not gone all the way after ignoring them.

He had his second on 51 minutes after more good work through the centre by the Wallabies. When the ball came out, a simple wrap with Cooper opened up the space and he then sent a pin-point wide pass out to the Toulon winger to dive over on the left. Cooper again missed the conversion, albeit from a tough angle.

The one concern for Cheika will have been seeing Skelton holding his shoulder as he was forced off. He looked to have a shoulder problem, which would be a cruel blow after growing into the game following a shaky start.

On the hour it was McCalman's turn to grab his second, with the Wallabies showing quick hands after a charge from Rob Simmons, Beale in particular giving immediately for the scoring pass. Cooper added his fourth conversion of the afternoon to make it 48-3 to the Wallabies.

They crossed the half-century with just over ten minutes to go, an unstoppable rolling maul ending with McMahon dotting down for his second of the game.

Toomua then added the tenth try, and the pick of the bunch after some fabulous build-up work. Cooper went clean through in midfield, stepped one man and then produced a sublime 20-metre pass to Beale. He shipped it on to Toomua for the easy finish. His miserable afternoon from the kicking tee continued though as he pulled his conversion wide once more.

Uruguay thought they finally had their first try of the tournament with five minutes remaining, were deemed to have been held up after turning the ball over on the Wallaby line.

Instead Australia came back up the pitch and Kuridrani went over on the right with the final play of the game, Cooper adding the tough conversion to complete a mixed game for him.

Man of the match: As well as his two tries, Sean McMahon was simply a beast with ball in hand, constantly breaking tackles. Slotting into David Pocock's role on the back of rolling mauls, the Wallabies have another excellent flanker to add to their already impressive collection.

Moment of the match: Australia were dominant throughout, but their tenth try was probably the best of the lot, Quade Cooper showing his best side with a huge sidestep and then perfect pass for Kurtley Beale to send Matt Toomua over.

Villain of the match: The game was played in good spirit, but Quade Cooper's judo throw of Agustin Ormaechea, while not particularly dangerous, was certainly stupid. Michael Cheika can't afford to take chances on a player like that in the big games coming up.

The scorers:

For Australia:
Tries:
McMahon 2, Tomane, Mumm, Speight, McCalman 2, Mitchell 2, Toomua, Kuridrani
Cons: Cooper 5
Yellow Card: Cooper

For Uruguay:
Pen: Berchesi

Australia: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Joe Tomane, 13 Henry Speight, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Sean McMahon, 6 Ben McCalman, 5 Will Skelton, 4 Dean Mumm (c), 3 Toby Smith, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Stephen Moore, 17 Sekope Kepu, 18 Greg Holmes, 19 Kane Douglas, 20 Rob Simmons, 21 Will Genia, 22 Bernard Foley, 23 Tevita Kuridrani.

Uruguay: 15 Gaston Mieres, 14 Leandro Leivas, 13 Joaquin Prada, 12 Andres Vilaseca, 11 Rodrigo Silva, 10 Felipe Berchesi, 9 Agustin Ormaechea, 8 Juan Manuel Gaminara, 7 Matias Beer, 6 Juan De Freitas, 5 Franco Lamanna, 4 Santiago Vilaseca (c), 3 Mario Sagario, 2 German Kessler, 1 Mateo Sanguinetti. 
Replacements: 16 Nicolas Klappenbach, 17 Oscar Duran, 18 Carlos Arboleya, 19 Alejandro Nieto, 20 Diego Magno, 21 Fernando Bascou, 22 Alejo Duran, 23 Alberto Roman.

Venue: Villa Park, Birmingham
Referee: Pascal Gauzère (France)
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Television match official: Graham Hughes (England)

By Paul Eddison at Villa Park

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