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IRELAND won only their second Australian tour match in seven when Alan McGowan's late penalty sealed victory over New South Wales Country in Lismore.
McGowan's crucial kick deprived the home team of a deserved success and boosted the tourists in the build-up to the second and final Test against Australia in Brisbane on Saturday.
NSW Country are one of the weaker representative sides of the rugby-oriented states in Australia, and were beaten 72-14 by the British Lions in 1989. But they looked the more impressive side yesterday, and outplayed the Irish for much of the match.
They went in front after three minutes when their fly- half, Scot Salter, made a fine break and kicked ahead for the right-wing, Michael Sykes, to score an unconverted try. McGowan immediately landed the first of his five penalty goals for Ireland, then the full-back, Jim Staples, went in for an excellent try from 40m.
The NSW Country lock- forward, Justin Nowlan, scored another unconverted try, but McGowan kicked three penalties to give Ireland a 17-10 half-time lead.
Midway through the second half, the NSW Country left-wing, Scot Rutledge, made his side's third unconverted try and Salter kicked a penalty goal to put them 18-17 ahead. But with only two minutes to go, the NSW Country forwards were penalised at a ruck, and McGowan, from inside his own half, landed a superb penalty to give Ireland a distinctly flattering win.
Salter had a chance to win the game for NSW Country, but his penalty attempt from 32 metres drifted wide. Between them, Salter and the full-back, Tim Eddy, missed eight kicks at goal.
Later, Ireland's coach, Gerry Murphy, admitted that his side were fortunate to win. 'We made lots of mistakes, but a win is a win and as they say over here, winners are grinners,' he said.
NEW SOUTH WALES COUNTRY: T Eddy; M Sykes, P O'Brien, C Coffey, S Rutledge; S Salter, S Merrick; A Baldwin, J Ives, G Clarke (W Petty, 51), J Nowlan, J Langford, N Cobcroft, A McCalman (capt), H Williams.
IRELAND: J Staples (London Irish); B Walsh (Cork Constitution), M Field (Malone), M Ridge, N Woods; A McGowan (all Blackrock College), N Hogan (Terenure College); P Soden (Cork Constitution), T Kingston (Dolphin, capt), G Halpin (London Irish), V Costello (St Mary's College), J Davidson (Dungannon), K O'Connell (Sunday's Well), D McBride (Malone), B Cronin (Garryowen).
Referee: K O'Halloran (Queensland).Reuse content