Day six of matches in Rugby World Cup 2011 saw Argentina and South Africa predictably win, but a gutsy performance from Ireland saw one of the tournament favourites, Australia, drop their first game.
Ireland 15 Australia 6
Ireland have claimed an incredible win over the much-hyped Wallabies side in the feature match of the day. It was a win built on guts and determination, with Ireland tackling tirelessly and completely shutting down the dangerous Australia back line.
Although there were no tries scored, it was an open game played at a very fast pace, with both sides looking to break their opponents out wide.
The difference was in the loose forwards, where Ireland completely outplayed Australia. Sean O'Brien, in particular, was outstanding, proving instrumental to the win.
The other area that decided the game came in the scrum, where Ireland put constant pressure on Australia, causing them to leak penalties from kickable positions.
Both defences were resolute, letting nothing through. Will Genia wasn't able to run around the fringes the way he normally does, leaving Australia to struggle with making breaks because of it. Kurtley Beale couldn't put away any of his outsides, despite producing numerous opportunities.
Controversial Australian first five-eighth, Quade Cooper, had a shocker and once again showed why many believe he isn't up to playing at test-match level. He looked very susceptible under the high ball and didn't handle the pressure applied by the Irish defence well at all.
The result sees the tournament completely changing, as Australia will now likely meet the Springboks in the quarterfinal. The winner of that match will go on to meet the All Blacks in the semifinals rather than in the final, which was the point most expected the two sides to meet should they get that far.
For Ireland, the win now means that they will likely meet either Wales or Samoa in their quarterfinal match—both which are winnable games that will give Ireland what could be their best opportunity to progress to the semifinals, something they have never done before.
Argentina 43 Romania 8
A strong first half saw Argentina playing far too well for a Romanian outfit that was unable to reproduce the form that saw them surprise many and push Scotland last week.
The Pumas ran in four tries in the opening stanza, giving them a handy 29-8 lead at the break. Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino was particularly dangerous from the back on the counter-attack, setting up many opportunities for his team.
The second half saw Romania fight back and gain some respectability. They defended courageously for the first 20 minutes after half-time, before leaking some late tries and causing the score to blow out.
Up front, it was a relatively even contest, with the Romanian scrum looking particularly proficient. Out wide, however, it was a one-sided contest, as Argentina constantly cut through the Romanian defence, touching down for six tries in all.
In their next game, Argentina will take on Scotland—a game that will likely decide who finishes second in Pool B.
South Africa 49 Fiji 3
South Africa have well and truly gotten their World Cup campaign back on track with a 49-3 thrashing of Fiji. After escaping with a one-point win over Wales last week, the form of the Springboks have been questioned. Today, they went some way towards answering their critics.
As was to be expected, the first 20 minutes was relatively even, as the Fijians used their unmistakable flair to give the South African defence problems, looking dangerous on multiple occasions during this time.
But it wasn't to be for the Pacific Islanders, as South Africa gradually wore them down and gained the dominance up front, allowing them to dominate for the rest of the game.
They would go on to score six tries to Fiji's none.
Jacque Fourie had a very strong game, proving to be very dangerous running, while Danie Rossouw was strong up front.
The magnitude of the win should see that South Africa will progress no matter what the result of their showdown with Samoa in two week's time, although this isn't guaranteed.