A powerful defensive display led by WA dynamo Carlo Tizzano helped the Australian Schools and Under 18s side kick off their UK tour with a 19-point win over the Munster under 19s.
In typically icy conditions at the famous Thomond Park in Limerick, the Aussie tourists took on the older Irish boys at the strength – the forwards – and dominated physically.
Even being reduced to 13 men via two yellow cards at one point didn’t prove a problem for the impressive Australian youngsters, who played the night perfectly with a well-executed pin-and-pressure game that built a five try-to-two victory.
Some nice wide tries were scored but the win was earned with hard yakka up front by the Australians, and in a strong field of candidates, Tizzano was the pick of the bunch; scoring a try, running well and repeatedly whacking Munster ball-runners.
The 18-year-old open side flanker is one of five on tour who left school last year but still qualified as an under 18 and were taken on tour to align more with the older junior representative teams they play against in the UK.
Tizzano missed the Australian Schools games last year with an injury but the effects of his year since, where's played against men in Perth club rugby and trained with the Force NRC squad, were plain to see as he returned to the underage ranks.
Forget rising star, Tizzano is more of a hurtling asteroid and we’ll be seeing more of his name in the near future.
But the whole backrow was strong, with fellow WA product Jackson Pugh and NSW no.8 Will Harris also turning in big games, along with skipper Angus Bell and hooker Billy Pollard.
Daniel Ala was superb on the right wing, scoring one and setting up another, and the physicality of the whole backline was noteworthy, too.
“It was a very pleasing performance from the boys, it was physical, hostile and direct, everything we expected from a quality Muster side,” Australian coach Andrew Moloney said.
“The boys showed great intensity and intent right throughout the match, considering most of these boys have not played for a number of months.
“Credit must go to the boys and our S & C staff for the all hard work they have done.
“To only leak 5 points whilst having only 13 players on the field was outstanding.
“But this is just one match of what will be very tough tour and our focus now moves to our next challenge which is an impressive Ulster side.”
Australia and Munster traded penalties early but Tizzano scored first when he dived from close-range, exploiting some excellent field position.
The Perth man was instrumental in the next try, too, when two strong tackles in a row saw Munster turn the ball over, and Harris and Pollard combine on the quick counter to see the hooker run 40 metres and dot down under the sticks.
Australia lost fullback John Connolly and Pollard to yellow cards approaching halftime, and Munster found the space to score with a nice cross-kick try.
With the Aussie defence and a strong kicking game purring well, the backs chimed in too when Ala finished a nice try with an in-and-away, but it was again set up by good skills from Pollard and Harris.
Australia never looked challenged in the second as their aggressive defence denied the Munster lads any gainline penetration.
A smart piece of play saw Pugh score with a pick-and-run from an unattended ruck, before Ala set up reserve no.10 Carter Gordon with a blistering long run on the right sideline.
Munster scored a second in the dying moments with a lineout drive but it was consolation prize time.
The Australian Schools and under 18s side now played Ulster Schools on Wednesday at 4.30am (AEDT).
AUSTRALIA 34 MUNSTER 15
Tries: Carlo Tizzano, Billy Pollard, Daniel Ala, Jackson Pugh, Carter Gordon
Cons: Reesjan Pasitoa (2), Carter Gordon
Pens: Reesjan Pasitoa
AUSTRALIAN SCHOOLS AND UNDER 18s TOUR SCHEDULE
1. Australian Schools and U18s v Munster Academy – Saturday 1st December, 6:00am (AEDT)
2. Australian Schools and U18s v Ulster Academy – Wednesday 5th December, 4:30am (AEDT)
3. Australian Schools and U18s v Ireland U19s – Sunday 9th December, 3:30am (AEDT)
4. Australian Schools and U18s v Scotland U19s – Thursday 13th December, 2:00am (AEDT)
5. Australian Schools and U18s v Scotland top 6 Schools – Monday 17th December, 2:00am (AEDT)