Midweek debacle under microscope - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Midweek debacle under microscope

By David Beniuk 17/11/2010 07:37:17 PM Comments (0)

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans defended the value of midweek tour games after his second-string side was ambushed by Irish province Munster in a loss which only heaped more pressure on the Test team.

The clash with the two-time European champions might have been a genuine selection trial for this weekend's Test against Italy following winger James O'Connor's return home on compassionate leave and Deans putting Test spots up for grabs after the heavy loss to England.

But weather conditions at Limerick's Thomond Park were so atrocious, and the Australians handled them so badly, little insight could be had into the fringe players' Test potential.

The side trip to Ireland for the match, which has required the team to take a charter flight from Limerick to Florence, has also eaten into training time for the Test squad.

The Wallabies fell into a time-honoured Munster trap, losing 15-6 in a game which lived up to all the tour match mythology - the weather was wild, the punches flew and the touring team lost, much to the pleasure of the recession-hit locals.

Munster extended a remarkable hold over the touring Wallabies having now won their last four meetings, including in 1967, 1981 and 1992, while the 1958 clash was drawn and Australia's only success came through an injury time try in the inaugural meeting in 1947.

A wild brawl erupted late in the first half on Tuesday, with even the wingers running in to get a piece of the action.

Australian captain Berrick Barnes seemed to struggle to find much to take out of the match.

"At the end of the day we're going to walk away from this experience and we won't be whingeing about any conditions we play under in Australia," he said.

Despite the potential for careers to have been damaged more than boosted, Deans argued the experience was invaluable to the build-up to the Rugby World Cup.

"Some might suggest it was a futile exercise for us. I disagree," he said.

"It was fantastic because this group of players don't get the opportunity to play this sort of contest often.

"Hence we opted to play the English champions (Leicester last week) and the Irish champions essentially.

"This is the closest thing to World Cup rugby that we can get."

He admitted, though, that he'd been left none the wiser as to his Test line-up.

"To that end, it probably wasn't ideal because it was difficult for individuals to thrive out there," he said.

Ironically it was an Australian, 29-year-old former sevens international Paul Warwick, who kicked his side to victory with three penalty goals and two drop goals.

"I probably feel for the Australians, being Australian," he said.

"It was horrible, it was miserable, it's something that we're probably brought up on, well, me being a Munster man now of course."

The Wallabies now head to Florence in a disrupted week with the pressure of avoiding a third straight defeat on tour.

At least Italy will be more stodgy gnocchi than light linguini after former Kangaroos half Craig Gower was ruled out of Saturday's match with a knee injury which may require surgery.

"I'm sure the Azzurri are looking at the tape (of the 35-18 England loss) licking their lips," said centre Adam Ashley-Cooper, who will play his 50th Test.

"They're going to think they're in with a good chance against us."

The end of this tour's midweek fixtures means five members of the 37-man squad will return home - Saia Fainga'a, Van Humphries, Luke Morahan, Rod Davies and Peter Hynes.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2023 AAP

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