Ireland’s summer series in Australia will come down to a winner-takes-all finale in Sydney next week after the tourists secured a first away win in exactly 39 years.
Australia started like an express train in Melbourne and were ahead inside two minutes when Kurtley Beale rounded Rob Kearney to touch down under the posts. Foley nailed the conversion but the momentum shifted when winger Marika Koroibete was sent to the sin bin for a dangerous tackle on Kearney.
Ireland exploited the man advantage when Conway scored in the corner, Sexton levelled with the touchline conversion then added three penalties to make it 16-7.
Ireland then conceded three quick penalties to allow Australia back into it. The Wallabies also earned a penalty try as Cian Healy was shown a yellow card for his illegal attempts at stopping the maul.
A physical game saw both coaches go to their replacements early but Ireland handled the disruption better and went on the attack, with Keith Earls scything through the defence from a superb Sexton pass.
Jack McGrath and Earls were denied tries by marginal decisions, but both times play came back for Irish penalties and after Sexton kicked to the corner, they finally got their reward as Furlong powered through Nick Phipps’ tackle to score.
Sexton converted but Ireland were made to sweat for their win as McGrath saw yellow and Taniela Tupou forced his way over from close range.
Foley converted to make it a five-point game with less than two minutes remaining but, despite finishing with a makeshift team, the visitors held on.