Australia 18 - 9 Ireland: Wallabies break unbeaten Irish run
David Pocock was the hero as he capped a dominant breakdown performance with the winning try in an 18-9 win and it was the attacking work of Kurtley Beale and the aerial dominance of Israel Folau that did for the tourists.
Joe Schmidt will not be happy with his finishing team as they lost for the first time since March 2017. When Johnny Sexton replaced Joey Carbery, his side were a point ahead but they lost their grip under Wallaby pressure at the end of a rip-roaring Test.
Australia took an early lead through the boot of Bernard Foley as Bundee Aki got caught offside, but Carbery drew the tourists level and then nudged them in front after Michael Hooper strayed offside.
Although Ireland had more possession, the home backline looked more dangerous with ball in hand and they made that advantage pay as half-time approached.
The chance came when Rob Kearney misjudged a high ball and Pocock secured possession. With Ireland scrambling, Australia moved the ball wide and Foley’s swift hands freed Samu Kerevi down the left. Jacob Stockdale covered across but this time the men in gold recycled the ball for Will Genia to put Foley over in the corner.
The out-half missed the conversion and his side took a two point lead in at half-time, the first time Ireland had been behind at that stage all season.
Carbery missed a chance to put his side back in front after Australia survived a 19-phase defensive set, but he nailed a simpler effort on 55 minutes after Pocock was penalised for holding on.
That was his last act as Joe Schmidt sent Sexton into the arena.
Ireland got a major let-off when referee Marius van der Westhuizen disallowed Folau’s stunning try for an earlier infringement by Adam Coleman. It was not a popular decision among the gold-clad fans in the 46,273 crowd, but a neck roll by James Ryan handed the advantage back to the home side.
Ireland’s first-choice props had come on early, but they gave up a penalty under pressure from Taniela Tupou and Foley put Australia back in front with 11 minutes remaining. A superb Folau catch and a subsequent penalty concession from Stockdale might have resulted in a further penalty, but instead Genia tapped the penalty and he got the reward as Pocock capped a fantastic comeback after his 18-month hiatus to power over.
Foley converted and, try as they might, Ireland could not muster a fightback, Kieran Marmion having a score ruled out in time added on for an earlier knock-on.