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Dublin: 10°C Monday 10 May 2021


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We had minute-by-minute coverage of this morning’s Pool C action between Australia and the USA.

Get in touch with your thoughts on the game.

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Go on, you know you want to.

FT: Australia 67-5 USA

Morning all. Who’s ready for some rugby?

We’re in Wellington for Australia v USA. Kick-off is less than 10 minutes away, so I’ll just toddle off to get the team-news and we’ll get cracking.

AUSTRALIA: Beale; Ashley-Cooper, Faingaa, Horne, Mitchell; Cooper, Genia; Slipper, Polota-Nau, Alexander; Simmons, Sharpe; Elsom, McCalman, Palu.

USA: Scully; Hawley, Enosa, Sifa, Swiryn; Malifa, Usasz; Pittman, Thiel, Fry; Lavalla, Smith; Basauri, Danahy, Gagiano.

As the teams belt out the national anthems, I should inform you that I’ve put all of my lunch money on USA (+61). Don’t tell my mum.

I’m fairly confident that they can keep the margin tighter than that, although Eddie seems to have kept a few of his bigger names in reserve for the final pool game. If you feel me getting nervous / hungry as Australia rack up the points, you know why.

The crowd count us down (what’s that about?), Nigel Owens blows his whistle, and we’re off and running.

The Eagles are showing no fear at all in these opening minutes. Malifa has already had some good territorial kicks while my buddy Quade Cooper seems to have a little bit of Friday night jitters. Human after all.

TRY! (Horne, 8′) Oh yes, it’s party time in Wellington and guess who has provided the magic? Yup, it’s that man Quade Cooper. He holds on to the ball for just the right amount of time, sucking in Hawley’s tackle before releasing Beale. The full-back has Horne on his shoulder and the centre just about manages to ground the ball in the corner.

Beale is on kicking duty, but drags the kick. Australia 5-0 USA

TRY! (Elsom, 11′) It’s all a little bit too easy for the Wallabies at the moment. They have plenty of numbers out wide on the left and Elsom just needs to cut back inside before touching down.

Cooper takes over kicking duties, but the result is the same — another conversion opportunity missed, but Australia are cruising. Australia 10-0 USA

Wonderful play by the Eagles has them up to within six or seven yards of the Australian line. Malifa found Hawley with a wonderful cross-kick but he was held up just short of the line, leaving the forwards to pick and drive. Pick and drive. Pick and drive.

Malifa tries a cheeky little grubber to unlock the Australian defence, but Beale and Cooper combine to keep them at bay. The Eagles will have a five-metre scrum, so the danger’s not cleared yet.

TRY! (Gagiano, 22′) The USA are off the mark, and that’s the first try that Australia have conceded in over three hours of rugby at this year’s World Cup.

The Wallabies pack does some stellar work against the head, but USA number eight JJ Gagiano picks off the back of the retreating scrum, burns Rocky Elsom for pace (yes, you read that right) and touches down in the corner. Malifa’s conversion just doesn’t turn quickly enough, so it’s Australia 10-5 USA.

After a wobbly start, the Eagles are well in this game now. They’re working the ball through the phases, but Swiryn knocks it on at the crucial moment.

TRY! (Beale, 30′) That’s how dangerous Australia can be on the counter. From Swiryn’s knock-on, Nigel Owens plays an excellent advantage which allows Rocky Elsom to burst out of defence. Ashley-Cooper gives the move a huge injection of pace and Beale applies the finish, leaving Cooper to kick the game’s first conversion. Australia 17-5 USA

TRY! (Faingaa, 34′) There’s another one for the Wallabies. This time it’s Rob Horne who makes the initial break, choosing an excellent line in midfield. He carries deep into the USA 22 before finding his midfield partner Faingaa just outside him. The centre swats Colin Hawley aside and touches down.

Boos ring out as Cooper prepares for his conversion… and he misses another one. It hasn’t been a great day for the out-half so far. Australia 22-5 USA

HALF TIME: Australia 22-5 USA

Nigel Owens signals for the end of an enjoyable half of rugby. I’ll be back in a few. Hit me up with your thoughts.

We’re back. Malifa gets the second half underway.

During the break, I popped over to our Facebook page for a quick read. Not an awful lot of love for the Wallabies.

Before I forget / get wrapped up in a barrage of tries, I should let you know that Kurtley Beale has gone off to be replaced by Berrick Barnes. The full-back seemed to be indicating a little bit of muscle tightness to the bench. A little bit worrying if you’re a Wallabies fan.

TRY! (Mitchell, 44′) Drew Mitchell runs in try number five, and he probably won’t score too many easier tries than that. The Australian backs are queuing up seven or eight deep off the back of the scrum and when Mitchell’s name is called, he runs straight at Malifa — runs straight through Malifa in fact — and crashes over. Cooper adds the extras. Australia 29-5 USA

TRY! (McCabe, 47′) Pat McCabe is only on the pitch a matter of seconds and he’s already got his first try. Cooper and Mitchell do the donkey work, McCabe goes over in the corner, Cooper horribly misses the conversion — I’m sensing a pattern to Australia’s play here. Australia 34-5 USA

And before you ask, yes, I am getting a little bit worried about my bet. Thought I was on to a sure-fire winner at half-time. Now I’m not so sure.

TRY! (Ashley-Cooper, 58′) The speed of Australia’s handling has been a thing of real beauty at times. This time it’s Cooper and Ashley-Cooper who link up to send the winger coasting over the line. The backs are moving the ball so quickly that America simply cannot keep up, regardless of their positioning. Berrick Barnes takes over kicking duties and nails his first — is he auditioning for a start against Russia? Australia 41-5 USA

TRY! (Ashley-Cooper, 64′) The Eagles cough the ball up deep in Australia territory which means that when Australia quickly turn it over, there’s nobody home. Nobody at all. Adam Ashley-Cooper can hardly believe his luck as he races free to touch down. Barnes tacks on two more. Australia 48-5 USA

TRY! (Ashley-Cooper, 65′) That’s a seven-minute hat-trick by my watch — Adam Ashley-Cooper, take a bow. The winger’s third is very definitely a team effort as wave after wave after wave of green and gold jerseys flood towards the American line. Barnes adds two more, and my bet is in real trouble now. Australia 55-5 USA

Oooh, something approximating drama as Nigel Owens asks the TMO to rule on a Faingaa try. Looks good to me…

TRY! (Faingaa, 70′) Yup, Faingaa had the ball grounded before either he or his tackler were anywhere near the touchline. Barnes misses the conversion from the most awkward of angles, which means that I’ll be on tenterhooks for the next 10 minutes even if nobody else is. Australia 60-5 USA

SIN BIN! (Scully, 74′) The Eagles will have to play the last five or six minutes with 14 men. It was the right call from Nigel Owens as Blaine Scully was deliberately offside to knock down a certain Australian try. Looks like I’ll be on the water for lunch.

I can’t watch. Which is a pity, because some of this Australian rugby is out of this world.

TRY! (Samo, 78′) As as wise man once said, it’s the hope that kills you in the end. With less than two minutes on the clock, Radike Samo decides that now is the time to get in on the act and, as the missed tackles fly, he crucially (for me) touches down in a rather central position.

For a second, it looks like Barnes’s conversion might just creep wide, but it’s over. Australia lead by 62 points. 62. Australia 67-5 USA

Some rather distressing scenes right at the end here. Anthony Faingaa is immobile on the ground after injuring his head and neck in a tackle. Hopefully he’ll be alright in a minute or two, but he looks to be out cold.

Faingaa is still down as the medics tend to him. Technically the game is still going on, but there won’t be any more action, that’s for sure.

FULL TIME: Australia 67-5 USA

As Bugs Bunny once said, that’s all folks. We restart with a scrum and Malifa hoofs the ball into touch.

Faingaa was carefully lifted off on a spinal board. Hopefully that’s all just a precaution by the medics, but we’ll let you know as soon as we have any update on his condition.

This is the latest on Anthony Faingaa from the official Australian Twitter account:

We’ll leave it there for now. No sign of an Australian hangover after last Saturday’s defeat — on the contrary, they played today like men on a mission and were quite superb, particularly as Eddie’s Eagles crumbled in the second half.

Stay tuned for more news and reaction throughout the day. I’ll see you bright and early in the morning for England v Romania. Adios.

About the author:

Niall Kelly