Saturday 19 October 2019

Ireland planning to mix and match for Wallabies decider

Tadhg Furlong stretches out to score his first international try, against Australia in Melbourne. Photo: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images
Tadhg Furlong stretches out to score his first international try, against Australia in Melbourne. Photo: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt hailed man of the match Tadhg Furlong after the prop's try-scoring contribution to his side's win over Australia. After coming off the bench in the first Test, the Wexford man put in an outstanding performance in Melbourne as Ireland levelled the series with a 26-21 win.

Furlong's second-half try was the moment Ireland converted their immense pressure into points as he burst on to a Conor Murray pass and powered through Nick Phipps' tackle to score, reaching his arm out to touch down in style.

Schmidt was delighted with the win and reserved some special praise for his world-leading No 3, who was celebrating his first international try and, while he wasn't aware that Furlong had won the award, he was fully behind the decision.

"Was he man of the match? Really? I didn't hear that," Schmidt said with a grin. "It must have been that spectacular dive to reach and get that try, I didn't realise his arms were that long - he obviously wasn't reaching into his pocket!

"But I thought he did incredibly well to reach out and score that try. He scrummed well, his line-break in the first half . . . he got lonely, he was in so much space that he got a little bit confused but then he tried to throw this mountainous pass out to the edge which got intercepted. It's not enough for Tadhg, he got it back then which was super play.

"Defensively, he worked really hard. He's really deserving of that man of the match award . . . there's a few other guys like Pete (O'Mahony). . . Pete's three turnovers were crucial and he had a couple of really good ball carries, good lineout pressure that he provided.

"There's James Ryan again, CJ Stander - that relentless energy that they bring to the side. There's a host of guys that worked really hard tonight, but you have to. You just have to against a side of that calibre."

Having handed Munster-bound lock Tadhg Beirne his debut off the bench, Schmidt said he will remain true to his commitment to continue to develop his squad next week, even with a historic series win on the line in Sydney.

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Andrew Conway (hip), Dan Leavy (sternum) and Cian Healy (shoulder) are all doubts after being forced off, while Bundee Aki, Iain Henderson and Jacob Stockdale will hope to prove their fitness.

"We definitely want to win the series, but we've probably got 10 games now between this tour and when we go into our warm-up to the World Cup," Schmidt said.

"So, the thing that we want to believe about our squad is that there's less and less between players, so selection is a contest every time.

"And as a result, we'll look back on what guys did well tonight and we'll see how guys travel. On Tuesday, we'll have a better idea about some of those guys who took knocks and that will allow us to make a few decisions further along."

Wallaby scrum-half Will Genia is definitely out of the Allianz Stadium decider after breaking his arm.

And his coach Michael Cheika was less than enamoured with the 25th-minute Healy tackle that led to his departure. However, it is understood that the Wallabies will not ask World Rugby to review the incident.

"Well, we ran the play down the front and Willy's the decoy around the back and he got 'king hit' from the side - looked like a shoulder - and when you're not expecting it that's what happens," Cheika said.

"So Hoops (captain Michael Hooper) went down the front, Willy ran around the back - I'm not sure who it was from the other team that came in and hit him - and he jammed his arm and broke it.

"(Adam) Coleman has got a very nice golf ball on the side of his face. We will get him off for some scans and check to see, and we have to do that pretty soon because sometimes if that's a cheekbone or eye socket he can't fly so we'll just have to check and see where he's at."

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