Ireland suprise Australia in thrilling Dublin win
There were big smiles despite the bruises among the Ireland team as they beat Australia 27-24 at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Saturday night. Injury-ravaged Ireland became the first northern hemisphere side since England in 2003 to beat the three major southern hemisphere teams in a calendar year.
Ireland and Australia scored three tries apiece while Paddy Jackson filled in for Jonathan Sexton with a faultless kicking display in a thrilling game that saw the Australians come back from 17-0 to lead on the hour mark before the Irish found a second wind.
The defeat ends Australian hopes of emulating the legendary 1984 Wallabies side in completing the Grand Slam over the Home Nations.
"It's a win we are very, very proud of," said the Ireland captain, Rory Best.
"The manner in which we won against a very good Australian team - it shows the character we have in our squad."
Ireland started brightly with some incisive running, but having boldly kicked for the corner rather than take the three points, Aussie lock, Rob Simmons, stole back possession at the ensuing line-out.
The Australians worked their way into a good position inside the Irish half for the first time in the 23rd minute but the good work was undone by experienced backrow forward Dean Mumm who aided by Simmons tip tackled Tadhg Furlong and was sin-binned.
A minute later and the Irish had taken full advantage as Simon Zebo's chip kick bounced kindly for Keith Earls and his superb offload to Iain Henderson saw the lock bundle over the line despite Will Genia bringing him down, before Jackson converted for 10-0.
But Ireland suffered further losses in their team -- they already had three key players out before the game started after a bruising battle with New Zealand last Saturday -- as wing Andrew Trimble limped off on the half-hour mark, to be replaced by youngster Joey Carbery. Fullback Rob Kearney had already gone off with a head injury.
Best, who has done his chances of captaining the British and Irish Lions on the daunting tour of New Zealand next year no harm at all, said he had been especially proud to win his 100th cap with such a bunch of team-mates.
"It's obviously a pretty big achievement to do that and with so many players who have played in those games is a good sign of our ability and depth," Best said.
"Especially after the World Cup last year when it was said there was a big void between north and south.
"We feel we can compete with all the best teams now. We feel we have shown that consistency."
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