Monday 19 February 2018

how the game was won


The game gets underway at a searing pace and Ireland, having thrice opted to go for the corner with kickable penalties, attack in waves. Australia dig in as Ireland vary their point of attack well but there is no return from these early skirmishes.

Ireland 0 Australia 0


A dazed Rob Kearney is escorted from the field to undergo a head injury assessment and is replaced by Simon Zebo, who has been fantastic all month. Kearney will not return.

Ireland 0 Australia 0


After David Pocock is pinged at the breakdown, Ireland opt to get on the scoreboard and Paddy Jackson slots the penalty. Pocock soon redeems himself when forcing a grounded Zebo to hold on to the ball during another Irish attack.

Ireland 3 Australia 0


After a long consultation between referee Jerome Garces and line official Nigel Owens, Aussie flanker Dean Mumm is sent to the bin for lifting and then driving Tadhg Furlong into the turf at a ruck. Mumm could easily have seen red, but Ireland have an opportunity rack up some points.

Ireland 3 Australia 0


And they do just that. Ireland go wide off a lineout maul, and CJ Stander carries hard at the Australian line. Ireland recycle and Zebo uncorks a lovely grubber kick which is fielded by Keith Earls, who offloads to the onrushing Iain Henderson (left) and the second-row rumbles over for a wonderful try. Jackson sends over the conversion.

Ireland 10 Australia 0


The elation from Henderson's try is soon tempered by the sight of Andrew Trimble hobbling off. Joey Carbery is sprung from the bench to win just his third cap - the Leinster tyro goes to full-back and Zebo moves to the wing. Far from ideal.


If Ireland are suffering from the unexpected changes to their back-line it certainly isn't showing as Garry Ringrose scores his first international try with a wonderful piece of opportunism. The young centre scoops up a loose Conor Murray pass off lineout ball, and then wriggles and powers his way over. Jackson converts and, although Australia are back to a full complement, they have a mammoth task on their hands.

Ireland 17 Australia 0


The fightback begins as Australian wing Dane Haylett-Petty gets in for a quality try - the first of three unanswered five-pointers from Michael Cheika's men. Australia had sporadically threatened through their backs, and Haylett-Petty's score confirms that Ireland are far from home and dry. Bernard Foley converts and the Wallabies go into the break with their tails up.

Ireland 17 Australia 7


As Foley gets the second half underway, Connacht scrum-half Kieran Marmion has taken up his post on the wing. Centre Jared Payne (pictured), a tight selection call in light of a bruised calf and thigh, has been replaced, so Earls has moved to midfield. The make-up of Ireland's back-line is barely recognisable.

Ireland 17 Australia 7


Having previously had a try disallowed for a forward pass, an increasingly dominant Australia get in again through centre Tevita Kuridrani. Marmion had come off his wing to try to halt Israel Folau, leaving enough space for Kuridrani to dot down in the corner. Foley adds the extras.

Ireland 17 Australia 14


Jackson gives Ireland a brief respite by slotting over a fine penalty after Pocock fails to release Marmion. Ireland have extended their lead but the wholesale changes behind he scrum have left them looking out of sorts.

Ireland 20 Australia 14


Following a raft of breathless exchanges, Australia strike again as replacement Sefa Naivalu shows searing pace to beat the Irish cover and score. Foley converts, and Australia are ahead for the first time, albeit by a single point.

Ireland 20 Australia 21


On the hour mark the unerring Foley sends over a penalty to extend his side's advantage. After already sending on Ultane Dillane for Henderson, Ireland replace Jack McGrath and Jamie Heaslip with Cian Healy and Peter O'Mahony respectively. Australia will not score again.

Ireland 20 Australia 24


After withstanding a relentless three-try onslaught, Ireland begin to exert some pressure on the Australians, with Ringrose, O'Mahony (left), Healy and the tireless Josh van der Flier all coming to the fore. After a series of pounding carries, Ireland go wide and Zebo lofts out a lovely pass to Earls, who goes over in the corner. Jackson converts and Ireland have taken back their lead through sheer will.

Ireland 27 Australia 24


Following a heart-stopping final quarter of an hour, towards the end of which Foley is sent to the bin, Ireland see out one of their finest victories. On the occasion of his 100th cap, Rory Best has led his country to three wins over the big southern hemisphere three in a calendar year.

Ireland 27 Australia 24

Tom Rooney

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport