The Wallabies’ 2022 season can be summed up in the first three minutes of their 13-10 loss to Ireland in Dublin.
In a year dominated by injuries, the sight of Hunter Paisami twisted in a tackle and immediately clutching his knee came as no surprise.
Nor were most of the Wallabies able to play—the try was called off due to poor discipline just moments later.
When Nick White popped out of the ruck, slipping between two Irish defenders and scoring, Australia looked to have made a perfect start at the Aviva Stadium, aside from the departure of Paisami.
But then came the gruesome intervention of a televised match official, who correctly isolated the neck roll from Wallabies prostitute Dave Poretzky. As a result, White’s try was thwarted, the Republic of Ireland awarded the first of four neck-rolling penalties in half, and any early momentum by the Wallabies faded.
No, this is not a typo. The Wallabies have given up four neck roll penalties in one half of rugby. Folau Fainga’s attack when the Wallabies were no less off the ball, earning a yellow card shortly before half-time, with referee Ben O’Keeffe warning both sides of foul play.
In a week when discipline should have been the focus for Australia, especially at half-time, it’s inexcusable to award four penalties for the same foul in one half, let alone an entire match.
For their fans back home, it will be both confusing and infuriating for those who are brave enough to stay with them at this late stage of the season.
Fainga’s offense was boosted by the fact that the Wallabies were reduced to 13 players in the second half because Poreki had previously failed the HIA. Without an available prostitute and Fainga’a in the bin, undeniable fights ensued and so Australia had to drop another player.
In those two-and-a-half minutes, the Wallabies got away with a narrow lead, with Irish winger Mac Hansen barely touching the touchline before sending the ball back to Jamison Gibson Park, who appeared to score.
The game eventually ended 13-10 to Ireland, with the hosts adding another victory to their impressive record at the Aviva Stadium as the Wallabies suffered their ninth defeat in 2022.
As a result, the pressure on Wallabies coach Dave Rennie is likely to increase even more, but he cannot be held responsible for the numerous foul plays during the first 40 minutes.
“It was brave, we held out in the fight, there was quite a bit of trouble tonight. We lost Hunter two minutes later, obviously Dave Poreki and then Kels. [Andrew Kellaway]in that [Taniela Tupou] and Bobby Valetini, all with injuries unlikely to show up next week.
“Obviously at one stage we had to play with 13 players, but there was a huge amount of character; but, as you say, a disappointment, because we had our own opportunities. You have to give credit to the Irish defense, so yeah. , gutted for the boys because it was very winning.”
There were only six points scored in the first 65 minutes of what was a largely forgotten test, which was hit before the match due to the departure of Ireland captain Jonathan Sexton.
Dominating both possession and territory in the first half, Australia failed to break the green wall in front of them, and the home defense and selective failure showed no signs of giving in. The Wallabies were only able to make one clean break despite 61% and 67% share of territory and possession.
Bundy Aki’s try in the 66th minute broke a win-win stalemate, Ireland’s position came from another unnecessary Wallabies penalty when Jake Gordon, playing out of position on the wing, made the slightest touch to Gary Ringrose while the Irish center caught a blow in the air.
The contact was minimal, but given that the Wallabies received a similar penalty in the first half, they had little to complain about.
To their credit, Australia rallied after that and finally found some momentum in the second half thanks to replacements Will Skelton and winger Mark Navakanitawase, who showed for the second straight week that they could very well be a bolter at next year’s World Cup.
Air-dominant, strong in contact and with a dangerous offload in his sleeve, Nawakanitawase was one of the few Aussies to bother the Irish defense and it was his pass that sent Jordan Petaia running to the line for the last 10 minutes.
Former Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper also enjoyed his best break ball game in some time, with the No. 7 veteran scoring several key passes.
When Bernard Foley converted Petahi’s five-pointer, the Test was again blocked by 10 apiece, though given the scenario of the past three weeks – and the entire 2022 Australian season, for that matter – you knew there was more drama to come.
It was thanks to a penalty in the scrum for the hosts and a superb strike from Ross Byrne that gave Ireland a 13-10 lead with four minutes left in the game.
Australia had one last chance to win when they fought their way deep into the field, earning a penalty and taking a corner. But again, they were disappointed with their performance, although breaking Jake Gordon’s maul was an extremely technical decision and, unlike the four neck throws missed in the first half, forgivable given that he had already played out of position before joining the drive.
“Yeah, it’s very technical,” Rennie said of the decision to ping Gordon after he joined the maul in front of the ball. “Normally it wouldn’t have been accepted, but quite a few technical things came up tonight.”
In addition to Tupou and Paisami, the Wallabies have other injury issues in the form of Kellaway, Poreka and Valetini, leaving them thin on the ground when they limp to Cardiff next week.
They will also be left without Foley and Skelton, who must return to their Japanese and French clubs respectively.
The only good news is that Australia will be playing another top 10 team that struggles more than the Wallabies themselves after Wales lost 13-12 at home to 14th placed Georgia.
But even the floundering Welshman will be optimistic about beating a Wallaby team that is further hurt by injuries and, for the only reasons they can answer, keeps handing out idiotic penalties.
It was clear after just three minutes in Dublin, you just had to sit through another 77 to endure the final torture.