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Dublin: 7 °C Monday 18 November, 2019
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It was the night before Saturday, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse… but there was Rugby World Cup action and, by God, was it going to be blogged.

If you’d like to share your opinions, observations, or nervous, insomniacal worries — this is the hour for sharing, and I’m hear to help…– email Conor@thescore.ie, tweet us @thescore__ie, find us on Facebook or leave a comment below.

Full time: Australia 68-22 Russia

Welcome to tonight’s coverage of Australia’s final group game of the Rugby World Cup.

I’ll say one thing for Russia: they’ve got a heck of an anthem!

Bryce Lawrence gives Yury Kushnyev the okay… and Russia are immediately pinged for being off-side. Jaypers.

While Australia are going though the phases in midfield, I’ll get the formalities out of the way…

Australia– O’Connor, Samo, Ashley-Cooper, Barnes, Mitchell, Cooper, Burgess; Slipper, Moore, Kepu, Horwill, Sharpe, Higginbotham, Pocock, McCalman.

Russia– Artemyev, Simplikevich, Kuzin, Makovetskiy, Ostroushko, Kushnarev, Yanyushkin; Popov, Korshunov, Prishchepenko, Voytov, Byrnes, Fatakhov, Grachev, Gresev.

Russia halt the Wallabies’ inexorable progress in midfield by winning the first scrum and booting the ball to touch. Promising Aussie prop James Slipper was at fault, going straight to ground.

Try for Australia! After Samo makes a break on the right wing, gaining all of twenty yards after shrugging a tackle, the ball’s slung across the Wallabies’ offensive line. Barnes takes a step back inside a strolls in left of the posts.

O’Connor balloons his conversion attempt high and right.

Australia 5-0 Russia

Australia have their second! The try-scorer turns creator as Berrick Barnes lofts a kick to the left wing. Artemyev’s nowhere to be found and, in spite of the best efforts of Ostroushko, Mitchell has time to come to a halt, take bouncing ball into his arms, and dash over in the right corner.

O’Connor’s kick is there.

Australia 12-0 Russia

What a try! A glorious cross-field kick from Cooper finds the arms of Samo, who again breaks the Russian line. Higginbotham finds McCalman, who offloads to a rushing Quade Cooper. Incredibly, the centre opts to toss the ball back to Ben McCalman rather than dive over the line himself.

O’Connor splits the posts.

Australia 19-0 Russia

Try number four for Australia! Securing the ball at the base of a lineout ten metres from the Russian line, David Pocock zeroes in on the Russian line. Kushnarov attempts the tackle, but literally bounces off the flanker, opening a clear avenue to the line.

The conversion’s there.

Russia 0-26 Australia

Australia haven’t scored for nearly a minute now… and they’ve just been pinged for a forward-pass. Disgraceful.

Poll: Which of these Wallabies squad members has the most comically Australian name?


Poll Results:

Kurtley Beale (11)
Berrick Barnes (9)
Quade Cooper (7)



Australia have their fifth try! Pocock again. The flanker drives over from a metre short after a charging Adam Ashley-Cooper’s brought to ground.

A confused-looking lady waves a Russian flag.

Australia 33-0 Russia

Ah, now… twenty frantic seconds of Russian possession come to an end when that man, David Pocock, makes a nuisance of himself at the breakdown.

“I stood beside him yesterday, and he looks more like a– a bodybuilder in person,” gushes player-turned-analyst Alan Quinlan of David Pocock.

Someone has a crush, methinks.

Russia have a try! Australian scrum-half Luke Burgess decides to run the ball to safety after securing a turnover a few metres short of their line. He makes a good fist of it, weaving all of thirty metres through the Russian line before he’s dispossessed. Ostroushko takes the ball in his arms and arcs a run into the right corner. Great try.

Captain Obvious, Alan Quinlan: “I’m not sure this is a turning point.”

Australia 33-5 Russia

What a try for Australia! I’ve just had a Sile Seoige moment. An incredible, sleight-of-hand offload from Drew Mitchell conjures space for Pocock in midfield. The flanker can’t complete his hat-trick, though, and sends Moore bundling over under the posts.

The conversion’s a formality.

Australia 40-5 Russia

The Wallabies are in again! Burgess gives Australia some momentum in midfield before the ball makes its way to Quade Cooper. The fly-half, with an incredible level of delicacy and precision, dinks a kick through the Russian defence. Rolling to a halt in front of the line, the ball takes a final, scripted leap into the arms of an airborne Adam Ashley-Cooper.

Lovely stuff.

Australia 47-5 Russia

Half-time: Fan of The Inbetweeners, Danny Care, is in the ITV studio this evening. He thinks Russia need to secure more possession. Hm…

The Wallabies have been completely dominant, obviously, but their back-line has been particularly impressive. Cooper, Mitchell and Barnes look unstoppable. The latter, in particular, could well find himself starting in the quarter-finals.

Surprisingly, Danny Care’s pretty dismissive of England’s “Ballgate” controversy.

“It’s just one of those things… you know, Jonny was just more comfortable with one of the balls…,” he wiffles.

He’d make a fantastic government spokesperson.

And the Wallabies are back in business! Salesi Ma’afu, who replaced Kepu at half-time, rolls to a halt in front of the Russian line. Incredibly, given his bulk, he’s able to lift his arms over his head and tap the ball on the try-line.

Bad boy James O’Connor makes the conversion.

Australia 54-5 Russia

Saia Faingaa, Rob Simmons and Rocky Elsom have also joined the fray…

Drop-goal for Russia! With advantage in his favour, Rachkov (who’s replaced Kushnarev) pops the ball over from fifteen metres out.

Australia 54-8 Russia

(Another) Try for Australia! A tap-and-go from Quade Cooper catches the Russian defence by surprise. The ball slips through a couple of pairs of hands before making its way to Drew Mitchell. With no one at all blocking his path, he glides over in the left corner.

O’Connor nails the conversion from the left touchline.

Australia 61-8 Russia

Disaster! Clear through for his hat-trick, Drew Mitchell begins to lengthen his stride and, grimacing, pulls up and rolls into touch clutching his hamstring. Given his history, it’s nothing short of tragic.

He’d been so impressive this morning, too.

Quade Cooper is penalised for dangerous play in midfield after he slings a Russian to the ground… by the neck. It wasn’t malicious– his hand slid upwards in the tackle– but society frowns up that sort of thing.

Russia kick the resulting penalty to the corner.

Under pressure from Prishchepenko, O’Connor fumbles the ball into the path of Sergey Popov. The prop sizes up the thirty-metre sprint down the line, but his grubber kick rolls out of play. He looks more relieved than disappointed and trudges back in the direction of his natural habitat.

Russia have another try! Simplikevich intercepts a loose pass from Quade Cooper and charges away in the direction of the Australian posts. He looks (rightly) chuffed with himself.

Note: Simplikevich, a star of the Russian Sevens side, is 6’4” and 95kg. Oomph!

Australia 61-15 Russia

Yanyushkin hobbles off  the field. He’s replaced by Shakirov… whose hips don’t lie.

Other Russian subs: Travkin and Garbuzov for Prishchepenko and Grachev; Babev for Kuzin.

Russia have their third! Rob Simmons is penalised, somewhat harshly, for a high tackle, gifting Russia an attacking lineout a few metres short of the Australian line. After gathering the ball successfully, the Eastern Europeans drive for the line, with Rachkov eventually pouncing over.

The fly-half then converts his own try.

Australia 61-22 Russia

Incredibly, another try would secure a bonus point for the Bears. They’re within sight of their exit from the tournament and have thrown caution to the wind.

The changes to the Wallabies’ front row and the loss of their left wing have left the Tri-Nations champs looking a lot less dynamic with ball-in-hand. They’re taking an extra half-second to secure the ball at the breakdown and are definitely lacking Mitchell’s inimitable, free-wheeling unpredictability.

Raymond Noone on Facebook asks:

“IM THE FIRST LIKE DO I WIN ANYTHING loooooooooollllllll”

No.

Try for Australia! Berrick Barnes blocks a kick from Shakirov in midfield. The ball bounces through the arms two Russians before nestling securely… in the arms of Berrick Barnes. The centre has a clear route to the line.

O’Connor, who’s kicked superbly, makes the conversion.

Australia 68-22 Russia

Full-time: Russia fall agonisingly short of securing a shock try-scoring bonus point, instead allowing Barnes to put undeserved gloss on a dismal second-half performance from the Wallabies.

Australia 68-22 Russia

Danny Care’s struggling with a Quade Cooper/Danny Cipriani comparison…

Nothing to see here, people; move along.

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