'I don’t think I’ve seen that before. I hope I don’t see it again' - Joe Schmidt on his unusual late substitution
Joe Schmidt was relieved to see the final whistle in Melbourne today as his Ireland side 'hung on' to level the test series against Australia at 1-1 following a pulsating encounter.
Ireland were 26-21 winners in the second test of their Australian tour, setting up a mouthwatering conclusion in Sydney next week. With the clock in the red, the Wallabies had possession, only a score behind but Ireland were able to hold on for their first victory on Australian soil since 1979.
With just over five minutes left on the clock, Schmidt was forced to make an usual substitution after running out of forward replacements on the bench.
After the impact of the game had taken its toll on Devin Toner’s body, Schmidt’s hand was forced and he replaced the veteran second row with back-up out-half Joey Carbery - something he doesn't want to have to do again.
"We were just hanging on at the end really," he said.
"We had Joey Carbery come on to replace Devin Toner. I don’t think I’ve seen that before, and I hope I don’t see it again.
"Dev was cramping up pretty badly and we knew we were going to have to defend that last six or seven minutes. I thought Joey did really well coming on. Made a few good tackles and we’re just going to have to glue everyone back together and see how we shape up for next week."
Last week, David Pocock put in a stand-out performance at ruck time but not to be outdone, his back row opponent, Peter O’Mahony, played an equally important role in Ireland’s victory in the second test.
Schmidt outlined the Cork native's performance as one of the predominant reasons for Ireland’s first away win over Australia in 39 years. The high penalty count of last week, was improved upon, by more accurate work at the breakdown.
"I thought we pinched a few of their balls," he said.
"Peter O’Mahony led from the front, was superb and I thought we didn’t allow them to get any of ours.
"We gave up a couple of penalties on our own account, but they got less of them (than in the previous encounter). I thought we were very good at the breakdown and that allowed us to maintain the pressure that we let slip and release last week."
After his side’s first test defeat, Schmidt was quick to point the finger of blame at the officials. Again after Saturday’s win, the rugby mastermind was duly dissatisfied.
"Their penalty count was double ours and our yellow cards were double theirs so there was probably a little bit of frustration,” he said.
"One way to stop a team scoring is to be as combative as they are. They kept us off their line and it was very hard to score.
"They’re tough to score in behind they work very hard."