Rugby World Cup 2011
Australia rebound to crush USA
Will Genia (Gallo Images)
Wellington - Australia rebounded from their shock defeat to Ireland with a comprehensive 67-5 bonus-point victory over the United States to get their Rugby World Cup campaign firmly back on track.
In a must-win match after last week's 15-6 defeat, the Wallabies withstood a gallant first-half display by a largely second-string USA side but eventually ran in 11 tries as their superior physicality and slick handling shone through.
Adam Ashley-Cooper bagged a hat-trick while Anthony Fainga'a (2), Robert Horne, Rocky Elsom, Kurtley Beale, Drew Mitchell, Pat McCabe and Radike Samo all also crossed for tries. Quade Cooper and Berrick Barnes banged over six conversions between them.
Number eight JJ Gagiano crossed for a well-taken try for a USA team that enjoyed a large percentage of territory and advantage in the opening 40 minutes but overcommitted at the ruck and looked leaden-footed out wide later in the game.
After making a handful of schoolboy errors in the opening minutes, much to the enjoyment of the jeering crowd, Auckland-born Cooper was instrumental in the first try as he opened up the defence for Horne.
A sizzling break by Beale was the spark for Elsom crossing for Australia's second just minutes later with the US defence in disarray.
The USA managed to ride out some sustained Wallaby pressure and move up into the Australian 22m area, going close with several salvos at the line.
Gagiano then delighted the crowd by picking up from the back of a fast-retreating five-metre scrum and getting past a desperate Elsom lunge to score a deserved try for the USA.
But against the run of play, Australia hit back with 12 points in four minutes.
From a knock-on close to their own line, Elsom opened up the defence, Ashley-Cooper made more ground and bounced a poor tackle to play in Beale for a try that Cooper converted.
Wycliff Palu then split the defence and off-loaded to Horne, whose pass found Fainga'a in space, the centre riding another poor tackle to ground the ball.
The second half started with Australia in control, Mitchell scoring off a simple wing move, Berrick Barnes pulling the strings superbly having replaced Beale and moved into flyhalf as Cooper moved to fullback.
McCabe scored with his first touch of the ball as the floodgates opened and the Americans looked a spent force after their first-half endeavours.
Ashley-Cooper then scored a seven-minute hat-trick, first rounding off another simple backs move, then capitalising on a USA handling error to run in a second, and finally the welcome recipient of a great move started by a Barnes cross-kick.
Fainga'a crossed for his second as slick handling again undid the Americans, and replacement Samo had the last word with the 11th try of the night.
But the game ended on a sour note when Fainga'a took a knee in the head and was stretchered off after several minutes of treatment.
15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Anthony Fainga’a, 12 Rob Horne, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia (captain), 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Ben McCalman, 6 Rocky Elsom, 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 James Slipper
Substitutes: 16 Stephen Moore, 17 Sekope Kepu, 18 Dan Vickerman, 19 Radike Samo, 20 Luke Burgess, 21 Berrick Barnes, 22 Pat McCabeUSA:
15 Blaine Scully, 14 Colin Hawley, 13 Tai Enosa, 12 Junior Sifa, 11 Kevin Swiryn, 10 Nese Malifa, 9 Tim Usasz (captain), 8 JJ Gagiano, 7 Pat Danahy, 6 Inaki Basauri, 5 Hayden Smith, 4 Scott LaValla, 3 Eric Fry, 2 Phil Thiel, 1 Shawn Pittman
Substitutes: 16 Brian McClenahan, 17 Matekitonga Moeakiola, 18 Louis Stanfill, 19 Nic Johnson, 20 Mike Petri, 21 Roland Suniula, 22 Chris Wyles