Rugby

Wallabies' spirits lifted

2009-11-09 13:37
Quade Cooper (File)

Melbourne - Australia's win over England will boost confidence ahead of their clash with Ireland - seen as potentially the most difficult leg of their four-match grand slam bid, newspapers said on Monday.

The Wallabies completed the first leg of a possible grand slam after a strong second-half performance helped them come from behind to beat England 18-9 at Twickenham on Saturday.

The win followed six defeats in their previous seven internationals heading into their European tour and injuries that have sidelined key midfield backs, Stirling Mortlock and Berrick Barnes.

Australia's rugby press were more optimistic of the Wallabies' grand slam hopes after dominating England.

"The importance of this win cannot be over-estimated," The Sydney Morning Herald said.

"It will revitalise their spirits, intensify their belief, and give the young players an important boost of self-confidence ahead of what could be the most difficult match of the four grand slam legs when they come up against the marauding Irish at Croke Park on Sunday."

The press also praised coach Robbie Deans for bringing off his bold selection punt of Quade Cooper and Digby Ioane as his centre pairing.

"The coach took an enormous gamble with Cooper and Ioane," the Herald said.

"If the move had backfired, the repercussions would have been enormous. But both players stepped up to produce inspirational performances, with Cooper a crucial member of the team's impenetrable defence."

The Australian newspaper described the midfield pair as accidental heroes.

"Had it not been for the tour-ending injuries suffered by Stirling Mortlock and Berrick Barnes over the past week, the Wallabies would have employed a fairly conventional back division for their tour," it said.

"Deans was forced to roll the dice with Cooper and Ioane as his centre pairing and they came up as winners, both individually and as a threatening midfield combination."

The Daily Telegraph said the grand slam quest was up and running but it will only stay that way if they maintain their form against Six Nations champions Ireland.

"Skipper Rocky Elsom is acutely aware that maintaining the rage on this tour is everything," it said.

"There is no other way but to storm Croke Park against Brian O'Driscoll's Irishmen after Elsom's insights playing beside the superstar centre six months ago for Leinster."

The Wallabies are attempting to mark the 25th anniversary of the lauded 1984 side's achievement in beating England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales on the one tour with a first slam bid since a star-studded team featuring Mark Ella, Michael Lynagh and David Campese swept all before them.

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