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Analysis: 23 seconds that highlight how Ireland were beaten in Brisbane

Michael Cheika’s team were better at the breakdown and their playmakers shone.

ODDLY ENOUGH, A disallowed try stands out as much as anything in highlighting how excellent the Wallabies were to go 1-0 up in their series against Ireland.

Television match official Ben Skeen called in a tackle off the ball on Iain Henderson by Adam Coleman a few phases earlier and Israel Folau’s score was chalked off, but this 23-second passage neatly sums up several decisive aspects of Saturday’s clash in Brisbane.

Just before we join the action, Tadhg Furlong, James Ryan and Sean Cronin have contributed excellent carries for Ireland as they work towards the halfway line after Rob Kearney fields one of 26 Wallabies kicks in play over the course of the game.

Suddenly, opportunity beckons wide on the right for Ireland.

Chance

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First receiver Johnny Sexton – on for Joey Carbery at out-half – finds Bundee Aki behind the front-door option of Robbie Henshaw, who does a good job of bumping Michael Hooper in the defensive line, as we have highlighted below.

1

Samu Kerevi has also initially been drawn in by Henshaw’s well-timed decoy run and he has to readjust to get back out to Aki.

Aki has Jacob Stockdale on his inside shoulder offering support and dummies a pass to the Ulster wing, looking to force a bit of hesitation in Kerevi as he drifts out.

However, it’s Aki who is hesitant in his decision-making, opting to throw a second dummy pass inside to Stockdale, rather than looking to the space on his outside.

2

As we can see above, Aki has Rob Kearney and Jordan Larmour on his outside, with Wallabies wing Marika Koroibete [circled] exposed on the edge of the defence.

Dane Haylett-Petty is in the backfield and advancing up as he recognises the clear danger, but this is a chance for Ireland to make real gains.

It’s the kind of potential one-on-one that Larmour dreams of and, even if Larmour isn’t to take on Haylett-Petty with ball in hand, a kick ahead into space could be very beneficial to Ireland.

Aki appears not to identify the space – we don’t know what communication he was getting from outside – and his failure to release the ball sees him punished with a thumping hit from Kerevi.

3

Typically, Sexton [circled towards the top of the shot above] has continued his run upfield ahead of the ball after his pass to Aki and we can see above his exasperation at Aki not finding the space on the outside.

Larmour’s reaction [bottom of the shot above] is similar, clearly frustrated at not being given an opportunity to burst down the right.

As Joe Schmidt insisted after the game, Ireland did create a number of opportunities in attack but this failure to exploit a chance was somewhat typical.

In a rusty performance, it was a combination of handling errors, miscommunications, breakdown inaccuracies and excellent Wallabies scramble defence that prevented Ireland from scoring a try.

The Wallabies brought superb physical impact in Brisbane and this firm hit, even as Kerevi is drifting, underlines that.

Turnover

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The fact that Aki opts for a second dummy pass inside means he can’t get a powerful fend up at Kerevi, who slaps it down in any case.

The quality of the hit suddenly opens up the possibility of a turnover for the Wallabies, with the breakdown being another area where they excelled on Saturday.

It was more often through the efforts of jackaling players – mainly David Pocock -clamping over the ball to slow or steal it that the Aussies made an impact, but this turnover was one example of the damage they did post-tackle.

4

The energetic Kerevi bounces immediately back up to his feet to deal with first arriving Irish player Kearney, driving into him, as highlighted above.

Left wing Koroibete fails to make an impact as he simply rolls off the side of Kerevi, but the breakdown pest Pocock backs up his centre superbly, driving in behind Kerevi and then showing his ludicrous ability to balance himself.

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As we can see above, Pocock’s left hand does go to ground very briefly but he almost immediately rights himself, using his exceptional core strength to stay up on his feet and ensure referee Marius van der Westhuizen doesn’t penalise the Wallabies for diving in.

Koroibete, determined to help seal the turnover, gets involved again and drives in behind Pocock to ensure Robbie Henshaw’s efforts to get over the ball are in vain.

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Kearney has one last attempt at rescuing the situation, falling back in over the ball from the side, but he seems aware that he’s in danger of being penalised and moves back away and onto his feet, just as Taniela Tupou arrives in to finalise the turnover.

Wallabies scrum-half Will Genia now has access to the ball and he instantly searches out Kurtley Beale.

If we rewind to when the ball is still in Aki’s hands, Beale is all the way in the Wallabies’ backfield, off-screen.

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One of the reasons the Wallabies regularly position Beale in the backfield when they’re defending is because of his quality in counter-attacking situations and we get a fine example of that here.

Finish

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Beale bursts up from the backfield as soon as he realises the Wallabies will win the turnover and it means he can take an excellent long pass from Genia behind a couple of his forwards.

As that pass zips out to Beale, we can already see below that out-half Bernard Foley is waving his hand in the air, signalling the opportunity.

8

Foley and Beale combined superbly as the Wallabies’ dual playmakers at 10 and 12 in Brisbane, constantly asking questions of Ireland with their sharp passing and kicking games.

As Waratahs team-mates, they are very much on the same wavelength and their identification of the chance here is typical.

Ireland’s entire front five is together out on that left edge of the defence.

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The fact that the three front row players, Furlong [18], Cronin [16] and Cian Healy [17], are bunched together makes it all the more attractive for the Wallabies’ turnover attack, even if that trio is relatively mobile.

Players like Beale and Foley are constantly scanning the pitch looking for front-row defenders who they can expose with their footwork and passing.

Beale does exactly that here, stepping on the accelerator and dancing across the pitch, getting outside James Ryan, Iain Henderson and Furlong, before straightening up to Cronin’s inside shoulder.

10

Cronin suddenly has to bite in on Beale, who slips the ball to the waiting Foley, the out-half having done very well just to check his run after initially getting quite flat, seemingly expecting an earlier pass from Beale.

Healy has dropped back from the frontline defence, covering a possible kick ahead from Beale, but with the Wallabies’ inside centre releasing Foley into space, the Ireland loosehead prop has to commit in on Foley.

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The Wallabies’ draw-and-pass skills were strong on Saturday and Foley, who was particularly good in this department, delivers the ball to Folau, allowing the fullback to stride clear and celebrate on his way over the tryline.

While this score was ruled out due to Coleman’s off-the-ball tackle on Henderson, it sums up so much of why Ireland were beaten by the Wallabies in Brisbane.

After a failure from the Irish attack to take advantage of an opportunity they had built towards, the Wallabies delivered an aggressive tackle, beat Ireland at the breakdown, intelligently picked out a weakness in the wide channel, allowed their playmaking pair of Foley and Beale to direct the show, and put Folau into a favourable situation.

It’s a formula that Ireland must stop in Melbourne if they are to level this series.

- This article was updated at 2.08am on 11 June to signify that Iain Henderson was tackled off the ball by Adam Coleman, rather than James Ryan.

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Murray Kinsella

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