Ireland have been the side to impress this Autumn series, having beaten South Africa and Georgia before this weekend. So who would doubt them going into their final test against Australia. The game started as most Irish games seem to, with a lot of kicking and Ireland going to the air testing Australia under the highball.
Eventually the Irish kicking game paid off with a beautiful kick and recovery to the corner, which put Simon Zebo in for a beautiful try! But it was not to be with Australia fighting back in quick success in what looked to be a guaranteed try with the 5 on 1 off the ruck. Tommy Bowe did the one thing that any wing would do – go for the intercept. Boy, did it pay off leading to Ireland’s second try in four minutes!
The Wallabies would not give up and were rewarded for their efforts scoring a try just minutes after the restart to play. The score came from their own half and just showed how well Australia can run with ball in hand. Shortly after, Ireland made a bad pass and saw Australia go in for their second try. Australia would sneak over one more time with Phipps scoring his second try of the day. Australia would go in with a 20-17 lead at the break.
The second half saw two intense defensive efforts, with the 12 points all coming from the kickers. Despite this, it was a half that showed excellent play and outstanding defense. Nothing really outstanding in terms of play but a nail bitter all around.
So what do both teams take away from the game? Let’s look at Ireland first:
Ireland are a team that has shown very bright aspects throughout recent years, yet never really seemed to be able to build upon it. With the narrow defeat last year vs the All Blacks and now the wins against Australia and South Africa, Ireland may be one of the teams to watch come World Cup time. Taking a look at the game, there are two areas that hurt them. The first being mistakes and the second being in the scrum. Mistakes arguably kept Australia in the game, with the two tries from deep in the half and the turnover which led to an easy pick up try. If they don’t find a way to play more sound rugby, they will fail. Secondly, Ireland left in both props for the majority of the game. Whether this was a sound decision is very questionable. With how the scrums were being lost by Ireland throughout some of the second half, it raised an eye as to whether or not the boys in green have really gotten to sound decision-making.
Australia on the other hand, do have a lot of positives coming out of the game. Although the tour hasn’t been the most successful- seeing the Wallabies lose two straight, which they haven’t done in a Northern hemisphere tour since 2001 – there is a shine of brilliance. What the Wallabies need is time; given the recent change in coaching staff they will only be able to develop from this. Looking towards the future, it only looks bright. I see a team that is starting to come [back] together.
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