Centre Tevita Kuridrani’s red card and a shoulder injury to Adam Ashley-Cooper have been the downsides to the Wallabies’ sharp four-try shutout of Ireland
The Wallabies will look at fighting to keep red-carded centre Tevita Kuridrani on their heartening end-of-season tour as injury to Adam Ashley-Cooper inflames concerns over their midfield cover.
The late send-off of Kuridrani for a tip tackle on Irish flanker Peter O’Mahony and a shoulder problem for Ashley-Cooper were the only downsides to an impressive 32-15 victory over Ireland at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium on Sunday morning (AEDT).
The Brumbies No.13 becomes just the fourth Wallaby in Test history to be sent off and he’ll be banned for at least one week unless Australia can successfully challenge at a judicial hearing.
Kuridrani lifted O’Mahony by one leg and drove him into the ground while the Irish flanker was also being tackled by Matt Toomua.
The International Rugby Board have been strict on tip tackle offences and he faces the bleak prospect of an early end to his European tour after three strong displays.
Kuridrani or Ashley-Cooper have started all 13 Tests this year at No.13 and if both are unavailable for next weekend’s clash with Scotland at a chilly Murrayfield then it will leave a sizeable hole.
Ashley-Cooper was replaced midway through the second half after damaging his shoulder in the 54th minute.
Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie was optimistic it was merely a “stinger” rather than an AC injury.
The 90-Test utility back’s loss would likely force McKenzie to bank on Queensland youngster Chris Feauai-Sautia stepping up to play outside centre in his run-on debut or moving in-form winger Nick Cummins into the role.
“We’ve got other guys who can play there. That’s life,” McKenzie said.
“It will be disappointing but if that’s what it is, that’s what it is.”
The Wallabies will analyse video footage of Kuridrani’s tackle and the charge sheet before making a call on challenging.
The four-tries-to-nil thrashing was Australia’s most creditable win since the 2011 Tri-Nations triumph over New Zealand and skipper Ben Mowen was quick to label it their “most complete performance” of McKenzie’s 10-match reign.
Their much-maligned forwards overpowered the respected Irish pack – highlighted by a late 10-man driving maul try – and their backline outclassed the home side out wide.
A yellow card to dynamic flanker Michael Hooper couldn’t stop him receiving man-of-the-match honours and the Wallabies’ Man of Gold award for his two-try effort, while Israel Folau was again freakishly good at fullback.
Enigmatic playmaker Quade Cooper continued his impressive return to form in a composed 17-point display which included a five-from-seven kicking return and the try that turned the game just after halftime.
Ahead 15-12, Cooper dummied and stepped through Ireland’s midfield defence after Australia’s dominant scrum turned possession their way following a controversial no-try ruling against Cummins.
“One of the best feelings as a front-rower is pulling your head up and seeing one of your backs diving over the line,” said veteran Stephen Moore.
“You never get bored of seeing that.”
Moore and flanker Scott Fardy highlighted the improved attacking interplay between backs and forwards by both delivering one-arm off-loads for tries to Cummins and Hooper in the first half.