IRISH skipper Peter O’Mahony felt like he’d run an Olympic 400m final and his men were being whacked by concrete bodies wrapped in Wallabies jerseys.
That was just the first half of the scene-setting first Test at Suncorp Stadium where Michael Hooper’s men put together a telling mix of speed and physical intent to set up an 18-9 win.
You expected giants like Adam Coleman to rock Irish forwards Jordi Murphy and Iain Henderson when there was 122kg behind the hit last Saturday night.
Having Kurtley Beale turn “Ironbar” Beale when flattening key halfback Conor Murray shows how important it is to have the mentality across all 15 players on the park.
“Turning up in defence at this level is so important and with our short six-day preparation it all started last Tuesday when backs and forwards got into each other at training,” Beale said.
“In Wallabies games, you’ve got to step out of your skin and perform in every area.”
Flanker David Pocock, scheming, sharp-passing halfback Will Genia and inside centre Beale injected irreplaceable qualities.
From Beale, it was his clever, bobbing linkwork, slipping out of a tackle to almost produce a try for Marika Koroibete, that starchier defence and his mix of kicks to Israel Folau.
“Our strategy group with (backs coach) Steve Larkham came up with the crosskick plan to Izzy and part of it was to exit better from our own territory after (scoring) points,” Beale said.
The Irish are certain to start 80-Test trump Johnny Sexton at fly half in Saturday’s second Test in Melbourne and will be more accustomed to the speed the Aussies will throw at them.
“That first half was one of the quickest I’ve played in my career … and you saw how physical there were in the first 10 to 15 minutes,” O’Mahony said.
“They (our tour hopes) are not all just thrown out the window, you get back on the horse and we have the chance to put things right in Melbourne.”
The Irish did miss two good chances for tries and in a tight Test that can be the difference.
“You start to get support back for the Wallabies with a packed house and winning like that but the job is not over yet. The Irish will be hungrier in Melbourne so it needs to be continued,” Beale said.
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