World Cup - Wallabies return to winning ways
Adam Ashley-Cooper scored the fastest hat-trick in Rugby World Cup history as Australia returned to winning ways with an emphatic 67-5 victory over the United States in their Pool C clash at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington.
The Wallabies bounced back from their 15-6 defeat to Ireland last Saturday by scoring 11 tries with Robert Horne, Rocky Elsom, Kurtley Beale and Anthony Faingaa crossing before the break to secure the bonus point.
Drew Mitchell and Pat McCabe scored after the interval before Ashley-Cooper needed just seven minutes to score three tries with Faingaa adding his second and Sekope Kepu completing the rout.
But Faingaa was knocked unconscious in the final minute, fellow midfield back Rob Horne has a fractured cheek bone, Pat McCabe dislocated his shoulder while Beale and Wycliff Palu limped off to give Robbie Deans some headaches ahead of a likely quarter-final against South Africa.
After not scoring a try against the Irish for the first time in 26 games it took the Green and Gold just seven minutes to cross the whitewash, some magic from New Zealand born fly-half Quade Cooper saw him slip through a gap between two defenders before an offload to Beale who found Horne to score in the left corner for a debut try.
Elsom extended the lead three minutes later as he sold the dummy and cut inside to score after the Wallabies created an overlap on the left.
But after 22 minutes, they conceded a try for the first time in five World Cup matches as after a sustained spell of pressure, number eight JJ Gagiano peeled off the back of the scrum and escaped the clutches of Elsom to bring the Eagles within five points.
The local crowd were giving the USA great support but Australia extended their advantage on the half-hour through a clinical counter-attacking try. Elsom started the break and found Ashley-Cooper who bounced off a weak tackle from Nese Malifa and Beale was there in to support to cross under the posts.
And there was still time before the break for Faingaa to collects his first international try as he wriggled inside the tackle of Colin Hawley near the try line before touching down to make the score 22-5 at the interval.
Australia constantly drew the man and forced the overlap in the second-half with Mitchell scoring four minutes after the break before replacement McCabe scored in the right corner, just moments after walking on the pitch.
Ashley-Cooper’s hat-trick came between the 59th and 66th minute, twice crossing in the right corner and sandwiched with a 50m breakaway effort.
Faingaa and Samo added further tries in the last 10 minutes to inflict a record World Cup defeat on the Eagles but the game ended on a sour note as Reds centre Faingaa suffered a nasty collision with Chris Wyles and left the field on a stretcher with his neck in a brace.
7' Horne try: Aus 5-0
10' Elsom try: Aus 10-0
22' Gagiano try: Aus 10-5
30' Beale try: Aus 15-5
31' Cooper conversion: Aus 17-5
34' Faingaa try: Aus 22-5
44' Mitchell try: Aus 27-5
45' Cooper conversion: Aus 29-5
48' McCabe try: Aus 34-5
59' Ashley-Cooper try: Aus 39-5
60' Barnes conversion: Aus 41-5
63' Ashley-Cooper try: Aus 46-5
64' Barnes conversion: Aus 48-5
66' Ashley-Cooper try: Aus 53-5
67' Barnes conversion: Aus 55-5
70' Faingaa try: Aus 60-5
78' Samo try: Aus 65-5
79' Barnes conversion: Aus 67-5