Monday 17 June 2019

Ireland's winning run comes to an end as Joe Schmidt's men crash to defeat against Australia

Australia 18 Ireland 9

James Ryan of Ireland is tackled by Sekope Kepu of Australia
James Ryan of Ireland is tackled by Sekope Kepu of Australia

Brendan Fanning in Brisbane

Ireland's record winning streak didn't stretch from 12 to 13 at Suncorp Stadium as the Wallabies got a head start, in front of 46,273, in the three game series. It brought Australia's winning home run in this fixture to 11.

So the tourists, who were furious with referee Marius van der Westhuizen, need to get everything right in Melbourne and Sydney to win the series. And this despite a game where they had 60 per cent territory and possession.

Their anger stemmed from a late call to penalise Conor Murray for a knock-on under the Wallaby posts. When Murray and Johnny Sexton complained a scrum was changed to a penalty and it killed their chances of overhauling the home side.

A return of just three points in the second half was well short of what their field position and possession demanded. Credit to the Wallabies, they made a big call themselves, in the final quarter, to try and win the game rather than just hang on.

Israel Folau of Australia is tackled by Rob Kearney of Ireland
Israel Folau of Australia is tackled by Rob Kearney of Ireland

Australia brought a huge level of physicality to the game from the outset, and in the process got the crowd involved in the perfect way. By the time Michael Hooper emptied Joey Carbery as Ireland tried another play out the back the home side already had three big hits to their credit. And three points to go with it, courtesy of Michael Foley tapping over a penalty when Bundee Aki got himself offside after just three minutes.

It came after Rob Kearney struggled to deal with a high ball in the air, and it was a portent of things to come for the full back who had a poor opening half. And so did the team, ending up behind at the half way point which was a rarity for them time this season.

Their set-piece was no more than adequate and they offered up too many readable hits to the Wallaby midfield who were desperate to make an impression.

Carbery levelled the scores on 14 minutes after a typical Ireland build up – a good lineout platform followed by forwards getting around the corner aggressively – but they were blessed not to concede a try six minutes later.

Robbie Henshaw was having issues with his timing in defence and missed Kurtley Beale badly in midfield.  It took a try-saving tackle from Jacob Stockdale om Marika Koroibete in the corner to keep the Wallabies out.

But Stockdale too would have his issues, between accurate punting and the basic job of nailing a defender on a kick ahead into the 22. The following sequence summed up Ireland's first 40: Stockdale allows Will Genia to step him; Kearney gets away with a dodgy looking call for a mark; and then the full back makes a hash of the kick.

That came late in the half, just after Henshaw had opened the door to a Wallaby try. Ireland were 6-3 ahead at the time, after Carbery had taken three points when David Pocock was done at a ruck on 26 minutes, but 10 minutes later Foley – a 34/1 shot for the first try-scorer – got over in the corner after Henshaw's mistake.

He missed the conversion but his team carried that 8-6 lead into the second half. By then Jordan Larmour, who had come on for Keith Earls after a failed HIA, was well settled into the game but wasn't seeing enough of the ball as Ireland took the ball up time after time.

It allowed Pocock and Hooper ample opportunity to go for poaches at the tackle, and they got decent traction there. At one point Ireland in the third quarter Ireland went through 19 phases before Pocock got his hands on in to turn the ball over.

But sometimes it went against him. Carbery had missed a handy enough shot on 51 minutes before Pocock gave him another go on 56, He nailed this one for a 9-8 lead.

They looked sure to lose it just after the hour when Israel Folau got over in the corner only for it to be referred upstairs – incredibly Adam Coleman was penalised for an illegal hit on James Ryan, and Ireland hung on to their one point lead.

Not for long. Australia got ahead again through Foley on 69 minutes and then made a huge call a few minutes later when offered another penalty. Instead of taking the points they opted to play – and were rewarded eventually with a try from Pocock. Foley's conversion made it a two-score game and Ireland could only come close to getting one – Kieran Marmion's touchdown on 80 minutes was ruled out for a knock-on by CJ Stander.

Australia: I Folau; M Koroibete, S Kerevi, K Beale, D Haylett-Petty; B Foley, W Genia (N Phipps 74); S Sio (T Robertson 63), B Paenga-Amosa (T Latu 55), S Kepu (T Tupou 55), I Rodda (R Simmons 55), A Coleman, D Pocock (L Tui 75), C Timu (P Samu 50-58; 63), M Hooper (capt)

Ireland: R Kearney; K Earls (HIA, J Larmour 26), R Henshaw, B Aki, J Stockdale; J Carbery (J Sexton 56), C Murray (K Marmion 78); J McGrath (C Healy 48), R Herring (S Cronin 56), John Ryan (T Furlong 48), I Henderson (Q Roux 65), J Ryan, P O'Mahony (capt)(J Conan 69), CJ Stander, J Murphy

Referee: M van der Westhuizen (SA)

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