Ireland (17) 27
TRY: Iain Henderson, Garry Ringrose, Keith Earls. CON: Paddy Jackson (3). PEN: Paddy Jackson (2).
Australia (7) 24
TRY: Dane Haylett-Petty, Tevita Kuridrani, Sefanaia Naivalu. CON: Bernard Foley (3). PEN: Bernard Foley.

And so it came to pass, despite my tipping Australia to nick this one, that Ireland completed, what now must be regarded as a highly successful Autumn Series, with a 27 – 24 win against the Aussies. All credit to Joe Schmidt and his charges who consistently brought a level of intensity to their game that enabled them them to defeat South Africa, Australia and, of course, New Zealand in the same calendar year. 

Iain Henderson and Garry Ringrose both crossed in a dominant first half performance and Kieth Earls grabbed a vital second half try, just when it looked as though the game was swinging Australia’s way. Paddy Jackson capped a fine performance from the tee converting all three tries alongside two penalties. 

Ireland started the game at a frenetic pace, turning down two kickable penalties, as they chose to ramp up the pressure on the Australian line. The visitors defence held firm and by the 18th minute Ireland decided to get some points on the board, Jackson obliging with a penalty. 

The pressure did eventually tell though when Dean Munn was yellow carded on the 23rd minute for a tip on Tadhg Furlong and a minute later Iain Henderson crashed over, having benefited from a grubber from Simon Zebo, a lucky bounce and good hands by Keith Earls. Jackson obliged with the conversion and 10 – 0 looked a much fairer reflection of the game. 

Not everything was going Ireland’s way, losing Rob Kearney and Andrew Trimble in quick succession, but on the 34th minute Garry Ringrose slipped through the Aussie defence for his first International try, again converted by Jackson, to give Ireland a comfortable 17 – 0 lead.

However the Australians finally found some form and a flowing move was finished off by Dane Haylett-Petty under the posts to make it a 10 point game at the break. 

Jared Payne didn’t return after the break, with Kieran Marmion coming on to the wing, and Ireland started to look a bit edgy. An Australian try was disallowed for a forward pass but shortly after Tevita Kuridrani finished off another slick move as the Irish defence looked at sixes and sevens. Bernard Foley knocked over his second conversion to make it a three point game. 

A now customary rampage by Furlong (what a series he’s had) gave Ireland a precious three point, from the boot of Jackson, but any thoughts of it settling the home side quickly evaporated as they ran out of defenders as a fine line by Sefanaia Naivalu saw him cross out wide. Foley again converted and Australia took the lead for the first time. 

A Foley penalty on the 64th minute extended the lead to four points and the traffic looked decidedly one way as Ireland struggled to cope with their mounting injuries and at this point I was thinking about how I was going to put some gloss on a second defeat. 

However Ireland produced another “feck me” moment this series when Earls crossed out wide to put Ireland back in front, Jackson converting to put Ireland three points clear. 

Twelve minutes to go and the Aussies looking rampant – there was no way they would hold on! 

Those twelve minutes passed like a full game and, yes, the visitors did butcher a couple of chances in a tense finale, however, hold on they did, giving captain Rory Best a win to mark his 100th Cap. The least he deserved.  🙂 #SUFTUM

Ireland: Rob Kearney, Andrew Trimble, Jared Payne, Garry Ringrose, Keith Earls, Paddy Jackson, Conor Murray, Jack McGrath, Rory Best, Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson, Devin Toner, CJ Stander, Josh van der Flier, Jamie Heaslip. Replacements: Sean Cronin, Cian Healy, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, Peter O’Mahoney, Kieran Marmion, Joey Carbery, Simon Zebo. 

#SUFTUM