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).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence