AUSTRALIA has ended Ireland's hopes of contesting the fifth place playoff at the Women's Rugby World Cup with a 36-24 win in Belfast.
The game was in the balance with the scores tied at 12-12 after 34 minutes.
But Australia powered away with 24 unanswered points either side of half-time.
Australia struck first through captain Sharni Williams' eighth-minute try, but Ireland was ahead when Ailis Egan pounced from a rolling maul and Nora Stapleton converted.
Winger Alison Miller extended Ireland's lead after jinking through the Wallaroos' defence.
It was a level game when Sarah Riordan burst off the back of a scrum and Ashleigh Hewson converted.
Australia did not look back after that as prop Hilisha Samoa, flanker Millie Boyle and wing Mahalia Murphy ran in tries and Hewson added three conversions and a penalty for an 11-point haul.
Ireland finished strongly when Sophie Spence and Paula Fitzpatrick claimed consolation tries in the final six minutes.
"I'm really proud of the way the girls played tonight. They executed the game plan we laid out for them and kept the pressure on the Irish throughout the match,” Australia coach Paul Verrell said.
"That win secures us a place in 2021 World Cup which was our goal today. It was also great to reverse the score from our first encounter against the Irish in Dublin.
"We knew as a team that we could produce a better performance and today we did in front of a vocal home crowd who were behind their team.”
Australia will face either Canada in Sunday's fifth-place playoff after the Canucks thrashed Wales 52-0.
New Zealand has a shot at a fifth women's Rugby World Cup crown after outclassing the United States 45-12 in the semi-finals.
Portia Woodman's four tries against the United States have thrust the rampant Black Ferns into the final in Dublin.
The Kiwis will play defending champion England after the defending champions defeated France 20-3 in the other semi-final.
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