Ireland edge Wallabies in dire affair
MATCH REPORT: Ireland beat Australia 13-10 to secure a record-equalling 12th home Test success at Lansdowne Road on Saturday despite missing talismanic captain Johnny Sexton.
A late penalty by Ross Byrne separated the two sides in a dramatic climax to a match littered with errors.
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For Australia, it was a third successive narrow defeat in the year-end Nations Series – having lost by a point both to France and then in a historic defeat to Italy.
Sexton had been ruled out shortly before the teams came out having injured his calf muscle in the warm-up.
The Australians opted to go for a match-winning try in the 78th minute rather than tie up the result with a penalty kick.
But they were then penalised themselves for a technical offence as they tried to maul the ball.
They had one last chance but turned the ball over, allowing Ireland to kick the ball into touch to secure the victory.
Coming off a historic first loss to Italy, the Wallabies responded in style and were level with the top-ranked team until the 77th minute, when Ireland replacement flyhalf Ross Byrne kicked a penalty.
They showed some grit to keep Ireland tryless until the 66th minute, when replacement centre Bundee Aki barreled across the line.
The Wallabies levelled in the 72nd minute after Jordan Petaia showed his class to glide through a gap to score, with Bernard Foley adding the extras.
Ireland lost veteran skipper and playmaker Johnny Sexton to a calf injury in the warm-up with Jack Crowley starting.
But the Wallabies’ 2022 horror injury toll continued to mount with prop Taniela Tupou assisted from the field in a medi-cab after suffering a second-half leg injury.
The Wallabies also lost centre Hunter Paisami to a knee injury in the fourth minute and hooker Dave Porecki to a head knock 20 minutes later.
Barnstorming No.8 Rob Valetini also limped off early in the second half.
The Australians’ discipline again proved costly, denying them a third-minute try while their replacement hooker Folau Fainga’a was yellow-carded for a neck roll late in the first half after repeated team warnings about foul play by referee Ben O’Keeffe.
Scrumhalf Nic White looked to have opened the scoring when he darted through a hole but the TMO spotted a neck roll by Porecki on Josh van der Flier and the try was disallowed.
With Porecki already off, Folau’s yellow card meant with no available hookers the Wallabies were forced to play with 13 players and uncontested scrums for two minutes early in the second half.
But they managed to keep Ireland from crossing the line, with White and Foley tackling Australian-raised Ireland winger Mack Hansen into touch as he flung a pass in-field.
After Tupou’s exit the Wallabies levelled at 3-3 through a scrum penalty, with Foley on target after an easy first-half miss.
Ireland went ahead through Aki in the 66th minute before a massive Will Skelton carry put the Wallabies on the front foot for Petaia’s try four minutes later to set up a thrilling finale.
Man of the match: It was very difficult finding a player that stood out. For Australia, Tom Wright made a couple of great runs, while Jack Crowley showed great maturity filling the boots of Ireland stalwart Johnny Sexton. However, our nod goes to Ireland scrumhalf Jamison Gibson-Park, who dictated much of play and alleviated the pressure.
Pens: Crowley, Byrne
Yellow card: Folau Fainga’a (Australia, 36 – neck roll)
Ireland: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Mack Hansen, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Jimmy O’Brien, 10 Jack Crowley, 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Caelan Doris, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Peter O’Mahony (captain), 5 James Ryan, 4 Tadhg Beirne, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Dan Sheehan, 1 Andrew Porter.
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Finlay Bealham, 19 Joe McCarthy, 20 Jack Conan, 21 Craig Casey, 22 Ross Byrne, 23 Bundee Aki.
Australia: 15 Andrew Kellaway, 14 Mark Nawaqanitawase, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Hunter Paisami, 11 Tom Wright, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nic White, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Jed Holloway, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Nick Frost, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 David Porecki, 1 James Slipper (captain).
Replacements: 16 Folau Fainga’a, 17 Tom Robertson, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Will Skelton, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Jake Gordon, 22 Noah Lolesio, 23 Jordan Petaia.
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: James Doleman (New Zealand), Tual Trainini (France)
TMO: Stuart Terheege (England)
Additional source: AAP