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Ireland's attack lacks creative edge to leave Schmidt's side chasing Wallabies

The tourists couldn’t create enough clear try-scoring chances in Brisbane.

Murray Kinsella reports from Suncorp Stadium

AS ALWAYS, IRELAND had plenty of the ball but their inability to score a try was damaging in Brisbane and Joe Schmidt’s side are now chasing this series against the Wallabies.

Michael Cheika’s men moved 1-0 ahead with a fully-deserved 18-9 victory at Suncorp Stadium, scoring two tries and always looking like the more threatening team when in possession.

CJ Stander dejected after the game CJ Stander came close to scoring. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Inside centre Kurtley Beale was at his playmaking best, showing off his vision, passing range and delightful footwork, while halfbacks Will Genia and Bernard Foley managed the game with a good deal of composure in the crucial final quarter.

Isreal Folau, as ever, was sensational in the air, almost making what should have been one-on-one contests look like no one was getting off the ground against him.

And with Marika Koroibete sizzling with energy, pace and power out wide, the Wallabies could certainly have had more than the two tries they managed, an excellent Folau score ruled out for a tackle off the ball on James Ryan before the key turnover.

The manner in which the Aussies pounced for that disallowed score was typical, as Beale identified space on the turnover and Foley calmly executing a two-on-one on the edge for Folau to streak in.

Ireland, in contrast, looked blunt with the ball.

Their near-try, prevented by Dane Haylett-Petty in stunning fashion, was created by the superb James Ryan running over the mismatched Foley and shifting the ball to CJ Stander – a moment based more on physical dominance than creative play.

Johnny Sexton dejected after the game Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Ireland simply didn’t have the creative edge that was needed to break down a ferocious Wallabies defence, which comfortably went through phase after phase against a direct Irish effort, with David Pocock poaching and everyone – backs included – hitting hard.

Johnny Sexton got 23 minutes on the pitch after replacing Joey Carbery and didn’t quite get up to the pace of it but his creative edge and decision-making intelligence will be important as Ireland look to bounce back next weekend in Melbourne.

Garry Ringrose was missed too on a night when the centre combination of Bundee Aki and Robbie Henshaw struggled. The expectation is that Ringrose will come in at 13 for the second Test and his footwork and pace on the outside will be valuable for Ireland.

As we saw in the final two games of the Grand Slam success, Ringrose’s creative streak at outside centre makes life easier for Ireland. His deceptive darts over the gainline so often lead to big moments for Ireland.

Sexton and Ringrose coming into the backline would certainly help Ireland’s attack, which struggled as the Wallabies brought the kind of physicality that is a requirement to cope against Ireland.

The Irish pack had a good outing, led as ever by the immense James Ryan, but they will have been disappointed with their breakdown showing, where Dan Leavy was perhaps missed as Pocock got on top.

Ireland’s  Garry Ringrose Source: Inpho/Billy Stickland

It was behind the scrum where Ireland arguably struggled most, failing to create the kind of clear chances that allowed them to score a record 20 tries in their Six Nations triumph.

Discovering a creative spark looks key for Schmidt’s side as they attempt to level the series next Saturday and take it into a decisive clash in Sydney on 23 June.

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Murray Kinsella

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