Australia ran out of ideas in Dublin and they may well have run out of legs by the time they enter Twickenham next Saturday.
However, Australia coach Michael Cheika said defiantly: “We go again. You’re not tired when you’re playing for Australia.”
Forty points were exchanged by the teams in a free-for-all of a first half before things settled down, leaving the kickers, Johnny Sexton of Ireland and Australia’s Bernard Foley, as the only scorers after the interval.
Had Ireland been more assured in the set pieces, they could have exerted more control, and the scrum will be an area for Graham Rowntree’s England pack to target when they take on the Wallabies.
Ireland threw away possession in the lineout and also a 17-0 first-half lead. A try from Simon Zebo and a length-of-the-field intercept score by Tommy Bowe put the Irish in the box seat after barely a quarter of an hour. But you sleep against the Australians at your peril and the quick wit of the their half-backs, Nick Phipps and Foley, saw them score 20 unanswered points in reply. Phipps nicked two tries and Foley was the benefactor of a dubious pass (and the TMO’s help) from his scrum-half to touch down for his own five-pointer.
Sexton’s second penalty left it 20-20 at the break, but Australia then looked to sustain a higher tempo, with centre Matt Toomua and replacements Kurtley Beale and Quade Cooper on a carousel of playmakers at first receiver.
But, for all their energy and wide running, they failed to break down the Irish defence and didn’t visit the 22 after the break until the final quarter of the game.
As they approach the tour finale against England, Wallaby coach Michael Cheika will have to ask how much more his players can give. Eleven have started all three November Tests – six in the pack.
Australia are ripe for the picking – just don’t sleep against them.
Ireland: R Kearney (F Jones, 78); T Bowe, R Henshaw, G D’Arcy (I Madigan, 58), S Zebo; J Sexton (E Reddan, 78), C Murray; J McGrath, R Best (S Cronin, 68), M Ross; D Toner (D Foley, 62), P O’Connell (capt); P O’Mahony, R Ruddock, J Heaslip
Australia: I Folau, A Ashley-Cooper, T Kuridrani (K Beale, 46), M Toomua, H Speight; B Foley (Q Cooper, 65), N Phipps (W Genia 69); J Slipper (B Robinson, 75), S Fainga’a (J Hanson, 71), S Kepu (T Faulkner, 71); S Carter (W Skelton, 72), R Simmons; L Jones (J Shatz, 54), M Hooper (capt), B McCalman
Referee: Glen Jackson (NZU)Reuse content