Australians get smart in record romp
WELLINGTON, 23 Sept. - Australia captain Will Genia hailed his team's tactical nous on a record-breaking night against USA on Friday.
Adam Ashley-Cooper scored the fastest Rugby World Cup hat-trick ever as the Wallabies won 67-5 - their biggest winning margin against the Eagles - at Wellington Regional Stadium.
Genia, assuming the captaincy for the evening from James Horwill, said: "We spoke about being a little bit smarter in our decision-making. The scoreline was flattering but the best thing was the way we went about it and our decision-making."
Ashley-Cooper profited from inspired back play to notch his treble in the space of just seven minutes and Genia said: "We got clean ball to work with and it made it much easier to get on the front foot."
There was consternation for the Australia camp, however, as Kurtley Beale (hamstring), Robert Horne (cheekbone), Pat McCabe (shoulder), Anthony Faingaa (concussion) and Wycliff Palu (hamstring) went off injured.
Coach Robbie Deans had used all his replacements by the 66th minute, and when Faingaa was taken off on a stretcher right on full-time the Wallabies had to play the remaining seconds with only 14 men.
Australia racked up four tries in the first half to secure the bonus point and within eight minutes of the interval, Drew Mitchell and McCabe had crossed as the Wallabies upped the tempo.
Ashley-Cooper’s first came after the Wallabies swept across the field from a scrum to create an overlap, replacement Berrick Barnes converting after taking over the kicking duties from Quade Cooper.
Barnes added the extras for Ashley-Cooper’s next two tries before Faingaa crossed for his second of the night. Radike Samo strode in for Australia's 11th try.
The Wallabies had been 22-5 up at half-time as they shook off the loss to Ireland last week. They clicked into gear early on as fly half Cooper set up Horne for the opening try, though Beale missed the conversion.
Rocky Elsom crossed next to make it 10-0 but USA, with scrum half and captain Tim Usasz orchestrating matters, found their attacking rhythm.
Fly half Nese Malifa's crossfield kick was superbly taken by right wing Colin Hawley and only a well-positioned Cooper prevented a try.
Australia then held out for 18 phases but from the resulting scrum USA number 8 JJ Gagiano touched down.
Two moments of Australian alertness then created a comfortable margin. First they pounced on a turnover in their own 22, Elsom linking with Ashley-Cooper to set up Beale for a try; four minutes later Faingaa was on hand to profit from a Horne break.
Cooper, who switched to full back when Beale went off just before half-time, had a wayward night with the boot, converting only two of his five chances.
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