Rugby Championship

Ireland stun Australia to level series

2018-06-16 14:10
Johnny Sexton (Getty)

Melbourne - Flyhalf Johnny Sexton starred as Six Nations champions Ireland beat the Wallabies 26-21 on Saturday to end a 39-year drought in Australia and take their three-Test series into a decider.

Sexton, recalled after sitting out last week's defeat in Brisbane, proved the difference with two conversions and four penalties as Ireland won their first Test in Australia since 1979.

The Irish, stung 18-9 a week ago, made eight team changes and frustrated the Australians into errors to take the series to a decider in Sydney next week.

The Wallabies scored three tries to two but the world number two-ranked Irish controlled the ball at the breakdown and profited from Australia's ill-discipline.

Sexton controlled the game for Ireland in his recall after making way for understudy Joey Carbery in Brisbane last week.

"It felt like we had a lot of the ball and obviously it's a lot easier with the ball, but at other times we needed to be better with our discipline," Sexton said.

"It's very pleasing to get a win. It's a hard place to win in Australia, so it's all down to next week now." 

Skipper Michael Hooper said it was a frustrating Test match for the Wallabies.

"We gave away a lot of penalties, the Irish capitalised on that. I thought they played a good pressure game and got the better of us tonight," Hooper said.

The home side paid dearly for their defeat with scrumhalf Will Genia suffering a suspected broken arm and lock Adam Coleman a possible fractured cheekbone.

Ireland led 16-14 at half-time and clinched the Test with a charging try from front-rower Tadhg Furlong - his first for Ireland - in the 54th minute.

The Australians fought back with a late converted try to Taniela Tupou, but the Irish defence held firm to close out the win.

The Wallabies got off to a flying start when Bernard Foley's inside ball put Kurtley Beale into a gap and the inside-centre beat two Irish tackles to score under the crossbar in the second minute.

But Ireland took quick advantage of winger Marika Koroibete's yellow card for a lifting tackle when Conor Murray put wing Andrew Conway over in the right-hand corner to level the scores in the seventh minute.

Sexton kicked the Irish to a 13-7 lead with two penalties from Australian indiscretions before Koroibete returned to the field.

Sexton landed another penalty for a deliberate knockdown by Caleb Timu, with Ireland dominating territory and possession.

But the Wallabies were awarded a penalty try when a rolling maul was illegally brought down and Cian Healy was yellow-carded, reducing Ireland to 14 men. 

The Wallabies suffered a blow when Genia went off late in the first half, to be replaced by Nick Phipps.

Ireland lost prop Healy with a knee injury shortly after the break, and wing Keith Earls lost the ball over the try-line as a scoring opportunity went begging.

But Furlong's first Test try and a Sexton conversion pushed the Irish out to a 23-14 lead, which Sexton extended with a penalty in the 66th minute.

There was a late flurry by the Wallabies, with Tupou scoring after Irish replacement front-rower Jack McGrath received a yellow card for a deliberate knock down.

Ireland were on an unbeaten run of 12 internationals until last week, but they have now ended a losing streak of 11 straight Tests against the Wallabies in Australia.

Scorers:

Australia

Tries: Beale, Penalty try, Tupou

Conversions: Foley 2

Ireland

Tries: Conway, Furlong

Conversions: Sexton 2

Penalties: Sexton 4

Teams:

Australia

15 Israel Folau, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Will Genia, 8 Caleb Timu, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 David Pocock, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 Scott Sio

Substitutes: 16 Tolu Latu, 17 Tom Robertson, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Lukhan Tui, 21 Pete Samu, 22 Nick Phipps, 23 Reece Hodge 

Ireland

15 Rob Kearney, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Keith Earls, 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Dan Leavy, 6 Peter O’Mahony (captain), 5 James Ryan, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 Cian Healy

Substitutes: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Andrew Porter, 19 Tadhg Beirne, 20 Jordi Murphy, 21 John Cooney, 22 Joey Carbery, 23 Jordan Larmour

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Saturday, 18 August 2018
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