Australia 21 Ireland 26 - the story of the match

Peter O’Mahony out-Pococks Pocock as Ireland win in Australia for first time since 1979

Ireland’s Andrew Conway scores his side’s first try. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Ireland’s Andrew Conway scores his side’s first try. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

 

Man of match

Peter O’Mahony. Not enough tackles (five) and little impact with ball in hand (eight carries for a paltry six metres), coming after many experts called for Jack Conan or Tadhg Beirne or whoever to remove the Ireland captain from the six jersey. But “Pete out-Pococked Pocock!” said a delighted Stephen Ferris, who played a bit of blindside in his time, after watching the Munster flanker inflict the damage Dan Leavy was supposed to cause. Three turnover penalties made up an astonishing performance, perhaps motivated by recent test matches when he was unseen at the breakdown.

The third O’Mahony steal was special, and so clever - with the hour mark approaching, and Ireland leading 23-14, the humongous Fijian winger Marika Koroibete rammed Sexton into the 22. Israel Folau and David Pocock desperately stooped to secure possession but O’Mahony had locked onto the ball. Folau couldn’t budge him. Pocock couldn’t convince the referee. The usual nuisance in the lineout, will O’Mahony return home as the new Ireland captain?

Honourable mentions: Niall Scannell carried well and Tadhg Furlong was monstrous while James Ryan (11 tackles and 11 carries for 19 metres) and CJ Stander (13 tackles and 11 carries for 21 metres) posted their usual double doubles.

Moment of the match

Furlong’s 56th minute try had been cooking for 12 minutes. Ireland only led 16-14 - despite dominating possession - but Rob Herring’s inability to find Dev Toner with a 49th minute throw should see him punished in the same manner as Seán Cronin last week. Ireland kept coming with Sexton’s lovely inside pass putting Keith Earls clear. The winger’s offload found Rob Kearney who went to ground instead of sending Conor Murray over, and then Jack McGrath’s double movement meant play went back for an Irish penalty (somehow Bernard Foley avoided a yellow card). Murray insisted on a scrum. Ireland kept pounding away with Earls denied the score when powering under Folau. On it went with Furlong eventually running over Nick Phipps. So much energy exerted to register the killer points.

Error of the match

Ireland’s Tadhg Furlong attempts a ’Hollywood’ pass in the first half. Photograph: Getty Images
Ireland’s Tadhg Furlong attempts a ’Hollywood’ pass in the first half. Photograph: Getty Images

Furlong still believes he can play outhalf. Five minutes before the break, Garry Ringrose slipped into first receiver to put the Wexford prop steaming over halfway. Ringrose looped and had a clear run to the line but Furlong decided to bump Dylan Haylett-Petty before flinging the Hollywood pass to Jordan Larmour. Bernard Foley got a hand to it as the opportunity disappeared. McGrath is also blessed his sneaky hand in the ruck didn’t cost Ireland victory.

Coach’s call

Sometimes doing nothing is the right decision. Murray, Sexton and Furlong played deeper and deeper into the game with Tadhg Beirne allowing two backrow replacements.

Referee’s call

Joe Schmidt pulled up the glaring error before half-time when Ireland were denied an attacking scrum despite referee Paul Williams clearly blowing his whistle before the hooter.

Word of mouth

“I’m from Wexford in the south of Ireland and I know a lot of people in Sydney so I know there is a mad rush for tickets,” said Furlong. “The support has been incredible and at times they carried us through this game.”

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