O'Driscoll marks 100th cap by saving Ireland again

Ireland 20 Australia 20

With 10 minutes to go, Australia leading 20-13 and Ireland's increasingly desperate efforts being thwarted by Wallaby defenders, referee Jonathan Kaplan and the video official, the over-riding thought was: "We could do with a bit of O'Driscoll now."

Ireland's captain had enjoyed a solid outing in his 94th appearance for his country and 100th Test match but was involved in the gift that was the Australians' first try after two minutes and had not been able to break free to produce any spectacular moments in attack. But, as with all world-class athletes, timing is everything and when O'Driscoll struck he made it count.

Tomas O'Leary's final pass from the scrum doubled up as the last throw of the dice and the gamble paid off as O'Driscoll drifted wide and the scrum-half's delivery hit him perfectly. Through he went for the touchdown under the posts and a delirious fist-clenching celebration. Ronan O'Gara added the conversion and the Grand Slam champions had a draw, which in the circumstances, was a commendable achievement.

Those circumstances included the Irish going into the match without a game together in eight months while the Australians have been playing and touring together since July. Also the fact that the tight head John Hayes and hooker Jerry Flannery were chronically short of game time and the loose head Cian Healy was making his debut had meant that the Irish scrum had creaked alarmingly against a powerful visiting unit. Yet, for that crucial end-play, the scrum was rock solid, allowing O'Leary the platform to find his man.

"It was just a smart move," O'Driscoll said. "It's something we've worked on very hard in training and I thought Tomas did brilliantly, he had a few options."

The most encouraging aspect from an Irish point of view was the obvious expansion of their attacking play, with all of the backline receiving regular ball to run on to. "If you don't try these things, you don't learn an awful lot about yourselves," O'Driscoll said. "But it's difficult to click when you haven't played together for a while."

The Australians were miffed afterwards and with good reason. This result takes the wind out of their Grand Slam sails and, when they had the opportunity to put the game out of Ireland's reach in the second half, they failed to take advantage. That being said, the seven points they had on the home side nearing the final whistle were a direct result of an Irish error after two minutes when O'Gara, adhering to the new positive policy fired out a pass to O'Driscoll which was too far in front of him and, when the ball hit the deck, Drew Mitchell pounced and raced over.

Australia started fluently but two O'Gara penalties pulled it back to 7-6 before Giteau kicked a penalty. Rocky Elsom, on his return to Ireland, was starting to throw his Leinster shapes and a fantastic break down the middle by the Wallaby captain needed an O'Driscoll tap-tackle to prevent lasting damage. The Australian midfield looked dangerous and Giteau sliced through after 26 minutes for what looked like a certain try, only for Rob Kearney to mow him down just short of the line with a fantastic tackle.

When Wycliffe Palu was sent to the sin bin a couple of minutes later for what looked like a thunderous, but legal, tackle, you sensed this was Ireland's chance to squeeze the visitors, but the Wallabies held out.

A Giteau penalty made it 13-6 but Cian Healy ignited the crowd with a wonderful surge to take Ireland deep into Aussie territory. Ireland worked the phases and Tommy Bowe powered over and O'Gara tied it up at 13-13.

If Ireland turn to their captain in times of need, the Wallabies have Elsom when they need to raise their game. Some good build-up play ended with Elsom setting off on a barnstorming surge which ended with him busting tackles by O'Leary and Kearney for a try in the left-hand corner.

Gitaeu's superb conversion made it 20-13 and you feared for Ireland's capacity to force their way back. But the next 20 minutes were a testament to the squad's fitness, attitude and resolve as they came at the Wallabies again and again. Bowe had a try ruled out by the video referee before O'Driscoll went over to preserve Ireland's unbeaten 2009 record.

Ireland: Tries Bowe, B O'Driscoll; Conversions O'Gara 2; Penalties O'Gara 2. Australia: Tries Mitchell, Elsom; Conversions Giteau 2; Penalties Giteau 2.

Ireland: R Kearney (Leinster); T Bowe (Ospreys), B O'Driscoll (Leinster, capt), P Wallace (Ulster), L Fitzgerald (Leinster); R O'Gara (Munster), T O'Leary (Munster); C Healy (Leinster), J Flannery (Munster), J Hayes (Munster), D O'Callaghan (Munster), P O'Connell (Munster), S Ferris (Ulster), D Wallace (Munster), J Heaslip (Leinster). Replacements: K Earls (Munster) for Fitzgerald, 53; D Leamy (Munster) for Ferris, 75.

Australia: A Ashley-Cooper (Brumbies); P Hynes (Queensland Reds), D Ioane (Queensland Reds), Q Cooper (Queensland Reds), D Mitchell (Western Force); M Giteau (Western Force), W Genia (Queensland Reds); B Robinson (Waratahs), S Moore (Brumbies), B Alexander (Brumbies), J Horwill (Queensland Reds), M Chisholm (Brumbies), R Elsom (Leinster, capt), D Pocock (Western Force), W Palu (Waratahs). Replacements: J O'Connor (Western Force) for Ashley-Coope, 69; T Polota-Nau (Waratahs) for Moore, 64.

Referee: J Kaplan (South Africa).


Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue