Wallabies captain Michael Hooper
Wallabies captain Michael Hooper

’Ballsy’ Wallabies call that buried the Irish

THE bold Michael Hooper call that won the Wallabies a shuddering Test collision against Ireland was perfectly coded... "Ballsy".

The skipper joked that was the name off the tap-penalty option, bestowed by Michael Cheika and his coaching crew, in the instant that the flanker decided to wave away a simple shot at three points to go for a try instead.

"That was almost the name of the call ... the boss came up with it," a delighted Hooper said with a grin after taking the scalp of the world's No.2 team 18-9.

With Cheika beside him post match, Hooper continued: "Speaking after the game, you guys were calling for it up (in the coaches' box)."

There was nothing much on the line at the 70-minute mark at Suncorp Stadium. Not much.

The Wallabies had just edged ahead 11-9 with a Bernard Foley penalty goal from a fist-like scrum surge that produced a tighthead with a full replacement front-row, Taniela Tupou, Tolu Latu and Tom Robertson.

Another successful pot would have extended the lead to 14-9 with 10 minutes to play at Suncorp Stadium.

Significantly, Hooper didn't do the predictable by kicking to touch to set up a 5m lineout drive. Instead, he opted for a tap, 5m out, where the men in gold were guaranteed to keep the ball if they kept recycling it properly.

The ball went through nine phases before a strong Bernard Foley carry freed halfback Will Genia to deliver quick ruck-ball to Pocock who barged over to score.

David Pocock starred for the Wallabies.
David Pocock starred for the Wallabies.

"We backed ourselves to do a job there and thought it would change the picture (of what they expected)," Hooper said.

"It paid off, just a few phases later than we would have liked."

For Cheika, the best themes from the game were the work ethic of his team and also how his players reacted to being denied an Israel Folau try just after the hour mark.

The no-try call came from yet another pedantic pick-up by the TMO, Kiwi Ben Skeen, because Wallaby Adam Coleman had done what the Irish hoped he would.

They ran a decoy play and Coleman tackled the decoy.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika looks on during the First Test between Australia and Ireland
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika looks on during the First Test between Australia and Ireland

"The decision is what it is," Cheika said.

"What I liked was how we reacted. Everyone thought it was a try, everyone is back in the back field there.

"As we keep saying, we have to build a no excuses mentality

"When that happens you just have to get back into it and win the next moment because that's the only thing that counts."

The Wallabies did just that with the big scrum, halfback Wil Genia trying to send runners through gaps, the Pocock try and the scrambling to keep the Irish tryless.

Prop Tupou and backrower Pete Samu were two of the reserves who stepped up.

"The finishers didn't just join the game they added to it which was very pleasing," Hooper said.

Irish coach Joe Schmidt credited the Wallabies for being "incredibly physical and persisting with a pretty effective tactic with cross-kicking with Israel Folau going after them."

The contest was physical from the outset.
The contest was physical from the outset.

"He (Folau) didn't get them all but he got a few that allowed them to get in behind us and we were scrambling a little," Schmidt said.

"There wasn't much between the sides.

"We'll just have to dust ourselves off (for Saturday's second Test in Melbourne). It's nothing that we didn't expect because they are an unbelievable athletic and talented team and we have to compete at that level to make the margins fall our way."

Irish captain Peter O'Mahony added: "That first half was one of the quickest I've played in my career.

"It (our big hopes for the tour) are not all just thrown out the window. We'll get back on the horse with a chance to put things right."

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