Mowen hails best Wallabies win of 2013
November 17, 2013
Wallabies flanker Michael Hooper crosses for the first of his two tries © Getty Images
The Wallabies turned the corner with their best win of the year on Saturday, a dominant 32-15 triumph over Ireland at a packed Aviva Stadium in Dublin. It was Australia's first back-to-back win of a forgettable 2013 as they produced a four-try shutout in which their much-maligned forwards were powerful and their backline outclassed their Irish rivals.
Skipper Ben Mowen rated it the "most complete performance" under Ewen McKenzie, who now holds a 4-6 Test record. The only downside was a late red card to outside centre Tevita Kuridrani for a tip tackle on Peter O'Mahony which jeopardises his place on tour with Tests against Scotland and Wales to come.
Energetic flanker Michael Hooper scored two tries, either side of being sin-binned, to be awarded Man-of-the-Match honours, while enigmatic playmaker Quade Cooper continued his return to form in a 17-point display.
Ahead 15-12 at half-time, Cooper scored the try which turned the tussle the Wallabies way when he dummied and stepped through to highlight his team's growing maturity and improvement. It came after a controversial no-try decision by television match official Geoff Warren who denied Nick Cummins a five-pointer by adjudicating the winger had failed to ground the ball properly.
Australia's much-maligned scrum then took matters into their own hands by wheeling the Irish pack to gain their own 5-metre feed before setting a perfect platform for Cooper to work his magic. The Wallabies forwards were also rewarded for their combined efforts with a powerful 10-man driving maul try to Hooper which sealed the result with 12 minutes left.
Stout goal-line defence also kept Ireland, not as slick or skilful with the ball as the Australians, tryless in the closing stages when they enjoyed a one-man advantage.
"I think that's our most complete performance to date," No.8 Mowen said. "It was really well balanced in attack and defence. The biggest thing we take out of it is we only let in three points in the second half."
McKenzie had talked all week of the need to win back credibility through results and he rated the all-round efforts as "outstanding".
"We didn't come in here with a lot of fanfare and a lot of people expected a different outcome but I think four tries to nil is pretty emphatic," he said. "I enjoy the fact we have the capacity to be able to win on the road. If you are going to win at the World Cup (in 2015) you have to win on the road."
Israel Folau was again white-hot as his freakish skills in the air regularly punished the Irish, who suffered for the loss of playmaker Jonny Sexton at half-time through a hamstring injury.
The Wallabies jumped to a 15-3 lead in the opening 25 minutes following two superb tries down the left-hand sideline. Both were sweep back plays which featured skilful one-arm off-loads by forwards Stephen Moore and Scott Fardy for Cummins and Hooper, respectively, to score.
Poor retention at the kick-offs and repeated ruck infringements allowed Ireland to claw their deficit back to three points at half-time when the penalty count read 9-3.
Adam Ashley-Cooper finished with a concerning shoulder problem that may cause a selection headache at No.13 with Kuridrani set to face a ban.
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