Ireland prove RWC credentials

Date published: November 28 2014

Ireland’s sensational November series has proven beyond doubt that they will be contenders at next year’s World Cup.

Ireland’s sensational November series has proven beyond doubt that they will be contenders at next year’s World Cup.

The impressive 26-23 victory over Australia in Dublin not only completed Ireland’s first November Test series clean sweep since 2006, but it also confirmed that Joe Schmidt’s men will be right in mix when it comes to a lot of those betting in Australia with bet365 ahead of the 2015 World Cup.

Tries from Simon Zebo and Tommy Bowe, along with a 16-point haul from Johnny Sexton, were enough to give Ireland a morale-boosting victory despite two tries from Nick Phipps and a late score from Bernard Foley giving the Aussies hope in the final quarter of the game.

A year after going down 32-15 at the hands of Australia, this victory will have banished plenty of demons from a squad containing many of the same players.

Last year’s Ireland side lost a number of high profile games in the latter stages, most notably the 24-22 loss to New Zealand, and the ability of Schmidt’s team to hold off Australia this time was a massive confidence booster ahead of the Six Nations and next year’s World Cup.

On the back of their 29-15 win over South Africa, Ireland have looked an entirely different beast in the final stages of matches in November, and Australia failed to make the most of their possession as the Irish defence stood firm to secure another win over Southern Hemisphere opposition.

Ireland had climbed ahead of Australia into third place in the world rankings before the game, and Schmidt’s men showed they are well deserving of their highest global ranking in eight years.

From the early stages of the game against Australia, Ireland looked the in-form side and took an early lead through a Sexton penalty. The fly-half then played a crucial role in the match’s opening try, placing a delicate kick behind the Australia defence and giving Simon Zebo the chance to use his pace to finish first in the foot race and score a nice try.

Bowe’s eagle-eyed interception soon after saw the Ulster winger race the length of the field and extend the hosts lead to 15-0, with Sexton adding the extra points to add to his own growing haul.

While Australia clawed back a try when Phipps took advantage of Zebo’s intercepted pass to score his first try, Ireland maintained their shape and never looked in danger of falling apart.

Phipps second try of the game might have given some Ireland fans a fright, three more penalties from Sexton ensured the hosts remained in the lead heading into the final 15 minutes.

It was the final quarter where Australia were really able to get their hands on the ball for an extended period, but despite mounting wave-upon-wave of attack on the Irish defence, the Aussies were repeatedly frustrated by the hosts’ defence in a performance that will have sent shockwaves around the international scene a year out from the World Cup.

First up for Schmidt, aside from recovering from the removal of his appendix, will be the upcoming Six Nations – a tournament Ireland will start as defending champions.