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Autumn Internationals – Slow Start But The Schmidt Era Begins With A Win

Dave Kearney had a dream debut, dotting down two tries

Dave Kearney had a dream debut, dotting down two tries

Italy 20-50 Australia

With Australia coming off a poor showing against England and Italy coming in from a strong Six Nations (though an admittedly poor summer followed) , this game could have been primed for an upset. As it was, the game started rather poorly though it seemed the Italians were causing the Australians some problems. Italy stormed into an early lead with a try by Luke McClean and they held a very strong ten point lead early, with the conversion and penalty kicked by Alberto Di Bernardo.

Australia gradually got into the game and began to find space out wide. Three tries in the remainder of the first half from Mowen, Kuridiani and Cummins gave the Australians a 19-10 lead at the Stadio Olimpico. The second half wasn’t going to be much better for the Azzuri with further tries for the Wallabies from Ashley-Cooper, Cummins, Folau and Tomane. Italy were out cold with no idea of how to salvage anything. There was consolation secured in the second half through two unconverted tries but they should be expecting more of themselves.

Ireland 40-9 Samoa

Both sides started this game rather nervously though encouragingly Ireland were particularly dominant at the scrum and lineout. A minutes silence was observed for the late Samoan international Peter Fatialofa ahead of the game and it was obviously expected this would spurn the visitors into a fiery showing, but the Aviva could muster up nothing but bitter coldness and some so-so rugby. Paddy Jackson and Tusi Pisi traded early penalties in the game for both sides.

Ireland looked to be in control of the game, although it took them a while to get behind the Samoan defence. A rolling maul gave them the first try with Peter O’Mahony taking the plaudits. Ireland were beginning to find space in the Samoan defence and looked like scoring more and Jackson added a penalty to leave them in front 14-6 at half time. They were more rejuvenated in the second half as they pulled away from the Pacific Islanders with two tries from Dave Kearney on his debut, another from Fergus McFadden and Sean O’Brien all contributing to giving Ireland a dominating lead. Samoa added a consolation penalty from Fotualli, as the home side cruised to a 40-9 win.

The beginning of Joe Schmidt’s reign wasn’t a dramatic display of flair, but it was a more comfortable win over Samoa than last time out, the Irish line wasn’t breached and, most importantly and refreshingly, Schmidt was not afraid to call out the performance at the post-match interview.

France 19 – 26 New Zealand

Ok, so it wasn’t necessarily a thumping or a thriller but it could have been worse in many ways. France fell to the mercy of new All Blacks flyer Charles Piutau who scored one and was crucial in setting up Read’s try which sealed the deal on the game.

For France, they could only muster up points from the boot of Parra and a final ten try that came all too late, though their final push ended in a try that was held up which would have left a conversion for the draw. All told it was a far better result and performance than their summer series against New Zealand where they could only muster up 22 points to the host’s 77 over the three games, and Saint-Andre is in dire need of any form of good-will these days, so a bruising but winnable fixture against Tonga next weekend should restore faith.

New Zealand on the other hand go on to their prize fixture next week, retribution against an English side who gave them an unmerciful hammering this time last year, and who have been in rather fine form the last two games. There’s an awful lot of hopefully top drawer rugby ahead.

Colm O’Shea/Niall Hetherington

Image courtesy of irishrugby.ie

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  1. November 11th, 2013

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