Ireland beat Australia in scrappy affair
At the end of one the cagiest, strangest and minimalist Tests, Ireland finally did enough to end a triumphant year with a third win of the autumn, if not a third high.
This was a proper game of chess; something which, at times, would have been more riveting. Sixty-five minutes in, the score remained 3-3. And, when Bundee Aki barged over, it seemed as if Andy Farrell’s side, finally, had done enough. But Australia hit back through the pace of Jordan Petaia and the hosts needed a late penalty from replacement Ross Byrne to seal the deal.
With seconds remaining, however, Australia came within metres of nicking it, before their Achilles Heel, discipline, reared its ugly head once again, condemning the visitors to their third consecutive loss.
Ireland were clearly disrupted by the loss of talismanic captain Johnny Sexton in the warm-up. The captain’s calf injury meant that 22-year-old Jack Crowley made his first start for Ireland – after just 20 professional appearances – and Byrne came onto the bench. While it is harsh to lay any blame for Ireland’s clunkiness at Crowley’s door, considering his inexperience and the suddenness of the disruption, how Ireland missed their lynchpin.
"Never in doubt," joked Farrell. "We'll learn from it. The bigger picture stuff is that Australia made it an absolute dog-fight but us still finding a way is a hallmark of a good side."
Australia head coach Dave Rennie added: "A huge amount of character, but frustrated because we had our opportunities. Gutted – because it was very winnable."
Australia’s European tour has been pock-marked by indiscipline, a thorn which showed no sign of removal on Saturday night. The Wallabies, with Ireland reeling, had an early Nic White try ruled out due to a neck-roll from Dave Porecki before the Australia hooker was at it again. Porecki’s hands in the ruck gave Crowley an easy sighter and Ireland took the lead.
The Wallabies’ attraction to Irish necks descended from flirtatious to positively vampiric as the first half progressed. After three more neck-roll infringements, referee Ben O’Keeffe had no choice but to send replacement hooker Folau Fainga'a to the sin bin.
Ireland had their disciplinary woes, too, epitomising their unwieldy display. Caelan Doris’ offside gave Bernard Foley the chance to even the scores but the Australian fly-half’s connection off the tee was so rough that the clunk of boot on ball was still reverberating around the Wicklow mountains well into the night.
Foley’s miss meant, after some mammoth defence from White prevented an Irish driving-maul try, that Ireland took a three-point lead into the interval despite the Wallabies’ having dominated both territory and possession.
With the on-field ambience growing increasingly fractious – with both indiscipline and scoreboard edginess contributing to the syncopation – Australia’s belief grew. Incredibly, too, when Taniela Tupou gave Andrew Porter a roughing up at the scrum, after 55 minutes the scores were level, with Foley this time on target.
After Aki and Petaia traded tries, Byrne’s late penalty for a scrum indiscretion sent Ireland into 2023 buoyed by the positivity of victory, if not of attainment; while the Wallabies head to Cardiff needing a win to avoid equalling their worst calendar year of the professional era.
Scoring sequence: 3-0 Crowley pen, 3-3 Foley pen, 8-3 Aki try, 10-3 Crowley con, 10-8 Petaia try, 10-10 Foley con, 13-10 Byrne pen.
Ireland starting XV: H Keenan; M Hansen, G Ringrose, S McCloskey (B Aki 54), J O'Brien; J Crowley (R Byrne 72), J Gibson-Park (C Casey 63); A Porter (C Healy 72), D Sheehan (R Herring 72), T Furlong (F Bealham 63), T Beirne (J McCarthy 60), J Ryan, P O'Mahony (c) (J Conan 50), J Van der Flier, C Doris.
Australia starting XV: A Kellaway (Gordon 60); M Nawaqanitawase, L Ikitau, H Paisami (J Petaia 4), T Wright; B Foley, N White (J Gordon 48, White 55); J Slipper (c) (T Robertson 77), D Porecki (F Fainga'a 24, T Tupou 44, Fainga’a 53), A Alaalatoa (Tupou 53, Alaalatoa 54), N Frost, C Neville (W Skelton 53), J Holloway, M Hooper, R Valetini (P Samu 49).
Replacements unused: N Lolesio.
Yellow card: F Fainga’a 38
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Final fixtures of the series
France vs Japan (Sunday 20th November, 1pm)
Wales vs Australia (Saturday 26th November 2022, 3:15pm)
England vs South Africa (Saturday 26th November 2022, 5:30pm)
Dave Rennie speaks with Amazon Prime Video
Gutted. I feel for the boys. They put a massive shift in toinight. There's alot of adeversity with injuries.
We hung tough, we hung in the fight. We had enough ball and enough opportunity to win it tonight.
We'll assess our injuries, there's quite a number and I doubt many of those guys will be back out next week. We'll be very determined to finish on a positive note.
Mark Nawaqanitawase speaks with Amazon Prime Video
Just his second cap this evening. He said:
We got ourselves in the right position there, but proud of the boys and the effort they did to get us into that position.
Discipline has been one of the things we've been trying to work on. We've come so close, but couldn't finish it there.
Andy Farrell speaks with Amazon Prime Video
I'm absolutely delighted with the win. We found a way and that's what good sides do when they're not at their best.
Nobody likes to lose their captain just before the game. Jack (Crowley) coming in – what a five or six weeks its been for him. It's awesome in this window to find out more about this group.
Ross Byrne – nerves of steel. It takes guts to back yourself from there. I'm really delighted for him.
There's a bit of illness going around the team, a bit of fatigue, but there's been no excuses.
Nailed this longer-ranger
— Amazon Prime Video Sport (@primevideosport) November 19, 2022
Try scorer Bundee Aki speaks with Amazon Prime Video
We just wanted a performance we're proud of. Tonight was a proper, proper test match. All credit to Australia. Fairplay to the boys.
They work unbelievably hard, they were obviously trying to fight for a last try.
We knew they were going to come hard and not go away.
The crowd is a big part of our team. Australia kept giving it, and kept giving it.
I think we only had 30% of possession in the first half.
We're building a nice culture here with the group. We can only build from here, and we can only get better form here.
Full time: Ireland 13 Australia 10
Ireland get it back and Casey kicks it away! There goes the whistle.
It wasn't pretty, but Ireland have done it.
For the first time since 1968, Ireland have managed to beat Australia three times in a row.
This Ireland team have proved they can beat all comers – and tonight without Johnny Sexton.
80 mins: Ireland 13 Australia 10
Oh hang on, Australia have won it from the lineout!
Ireland have got to be so careful not to give anything away now. Late drama in Dublin.
79 mins: Ireland 13 Australia 10
Penalty to Ireland to close down the Australian attack, an offside.
That'll do it for Ireland.
PENALTY! Ireland 13 Australia 10 (Byrne, 76)
Penalty to Ireland on the right. Ross Byrne opts to go for the sticks! He's really far out, but senses his moment of heroism.
And he makes it! Incredible stuff here. Ross Byrne made it look easy! A massive moment with just four minutes of game time to go.
TRY! Ireland 10 Australia 10 (Petaia, 71)
Australia respond immediately! Petaia is the man who goes over the line. It's a massive carry from Skelton, he attracted players to him and bounced about four guys off him.
It's sent out to Jordan Petaia to go over on the right side, still with another couple of men to use, easy there.
TRY! Ireland 10 Australia 3 (Aki, 67)
Bundee Aki!!! That's his fourth try in his last ten tests for Ireland.
He shows his power close to the line, using the outside shoulder to bundle it over.
The play from lineout was so well worked, Ireland always in a good position.
Crowley gets the extras.
65 mins: Ireland 3 Australia 3
Doris with a great surge, to Casey – high tackle, penalty advantage coming.
Australia defend for their lives, Ireland within five yards, inching closer.
64 mins: Ireland 3 Australia 3
Fast hands from Ireland here... but it's knocked on in and a scrum in Australia's direction.
Decision overturned after TMO shows a tackle in mid-air. Ireland penalty. Big kick into Australia's 22.
62 mins: Ireland 3 Australia 3
Penalty Ireland after Skelton fails to release.
They go for a lineout on the right, but it's won by Australia.
59 mins: Ireland 3 Australia 3
Ireland have been outmatched in the air, Australia have identified this going into the game. They've not got up into the air early enough and it's relatively easy yards for the visitors when they go for the boot.
56 mins: Ireland 3 Australia 3
Another penalty to Australia straight from the kick off following the score, Ireland collapsing the maul.
PENALTY! Ireland 3 Australia 3 (Foley, 55)
Foley gets Australia off the mark after 55 minutes. Can they build on this momentum?
53 mins: Ireland 3 Australia 0
Tupou's fallen and grabs his right leg. It looks like it could be quite a serious injury to the big man. He's getting treatment.
53 mins: Ireland 3 Australia 0
Knock-on by Ireland, advantage coming. Australia are getting up into that space quite effectively. They've done their homework and are putting the pressure on in the right places.
Australia scrum to come, 25 metres out.
53 mins: Ireland 3 Australia 0
Australia move up to the edge of the Ireland 22. They're starting to put a bit of pressure onto Ireland after the hosts have been on top most of the half so far.
49 mins: Ireland 3 Australia 0
Ireland lineout, five yards out...
A few phases for Ireland, but it's a penalty to Australia for Ireland going in at the side.
The Australian pack celebrates that like a try.
48 mins: Ireland 3 Australia 0
A TMO check for a face-to-face tackle, Valetini on Sheehan. Penalty to Ireland.
48 mins: Ireland 3 Australia 0
Ireland with a few phases in the attack, but it's quite sloppy there and Australia look pretty comfortable in that defensive set.
DISALLOWED TRY! Ireland 3 Australia 0
Gibson-Park goes over, Hansen going down the blindside following the scrum, offloading to his team-mate to put down.
BUT, the TMO shows Hansen's right foot touched the line as he was pushed out. That was Ireland's chance – Fainga'a comes out the sin bin and Australia are back to full strength.
45 mins: Ireland 3 Australia 0
Gibson-Park, to Hansen, but his foot has gone out there on the right flank.
Hooper's lineout throw, but it has not ended well for Australia.
Scrum, and Ireland put in. Big moment in the game this.
43 mins: Ireland 3 Australia 0
Ireland are back into the 22... but it's been a knock-on. Australia scrum with both of their hookers off.
Great pace on Ireland's game, really getting into their tempo. The footwork of Sheehan is so good. His first instinct is not to run into someone, but to see how he keep squeeze his way through.
41 mins: Ireland 3 Australia 0
McCloskey jostles his way into the 22. It's spread out to Crowley, and then Hansen...
But Hooper gets the hand in there and manages to pull it back on the Australian side.
The boot from Foley relieves the pressure for Australia.
40 mins: Ireland 3 Australia 0
Nawaqanitawase receives the kick – he's looked lively tonight.
Ireland with the kick.
Folau Fainga'a will be off for the first six minutes of this half
He's been done for neck rolling.
Half time: Ireland 3 Australia 0
It is feisty affair in Dublin, all very much to play for with only one score this half.
Ireland struggled to begin with, but defended in a disciplined way to resist a 21-phase Australia attack.
They spent hardly any time in their opponents half, but almost nabbed a try at the very end there.
40 mins: Ireland 3 Australia 0
Ireland kick to the corner from their penalty, looking for the try.
They win the lineout, Doris diving for the line, but just out.
Gibson-Park had a foot out when he was going for the ball – Australia lineout in their 5.
YELLOW CARD Ireland 3 Australia 0 (Fainga'a, 36)
Fainga'a is sin-binned for foul play, a tackle up round the neck region.
36 mins: Ireland 3 Australia 0
Crowley looks lively out there, he's chipping away at the pack. His first big game and he's standing up and being counted – Australia are sending a lot down his flank, but he's dealing with it well.
33 mins: Ireland 3 Australia 0
Australia penalty on the halfway line – Ireland not releasing.
Quite a scrappy one so far. We're not seeing clean rucks meaning that we're missing the type of attacking moves we know these sides are capable of.
30 mins: Ireland 3 Australia 0
Nawaqanitawase looks like the biggest threat in the Australian team.
He almost gets through down the left and he has the tactic of showing the ball, but then going the other way. Very elusive. One to watch. Plenty of ball in hand in this opening half hour of game time for the New South Wales Waratahs wing.
28 mins: Ireland 3 Australia 0
Sheehan and Nawaqanitawase square up to one another following a penalty in Australia's favour.
A high tackle from Ireland after their kick forward.
27 mins: Ireland 3 Australia 0
Australia make progress, building through the phases...
Ikitau spins to shrug off Ringrose, concentration good from the visitors.
A wonderful offload by Kellaway down the left flank.
But after 21 phases, Australia come away with nothing – it's a penalty to Ireland.
Ireland grew in defensive confidence as Australia went through the phases. Smart play from the hosts.
23 mins: Ireland 3 Australia 0
Australia are very nearly there, building up through 10 phases.
Nawaqanitawase is almost through down the right, tries for the offload on his right but it's too heavy at his man. Really good tackling from Ringrose to force the rushed offload.
22 mins: Ireland 3 Australia 0
Another penalty to Australia, in their own half this one.
They're into the Ireland 22 with the kick.
21 mins: MISSED PENALTY Ireland 3 Australia 0
Bernard Foley misses the penalty, stroked to the right. This is normally the reliable part of the Australian game. Surprising that, looked fairly straightforward.
19 mins: Ireland 3 Australia 0
Foley sees a little gap round the back and goes for the kick. Ikitau is almost there, but Keenan just gets to it.
17 mins: Ireland 3 Australia 0
Hansen's kick from the back is charged down...
But there was an advantage on for Ireland so we go back for that.
Quite scrappy so far, neither team has been able to build phase after phase. Lots of errors.
15 mins: Ireland 3 Australia 0
Gibson-Park goes with the aerial route again, Ireland try to push Kellaway out of play.
High tackle from O'Mahony, Australia penalty on the halfway line. Kicked out to within 25.
14 mins: Ireland 3 Australia 0
A well-judged kick to put Ireland within 10 metres.
Smart kick from Gibson-Park up the right flank. Ireland are not a million miles away in receiving the ball from the lineout. Knocked on. Australia kick out from five.
PENALTY: Ireland 3 Australia 0 (Crowley, 9)
Late change Jack Crowley slots the penalty between the posts.
8 mins: Ireland 0 Australia 0
Clean as a whistle that lineout from Sheehan on Ireland's right... penalty to Ireland within range – hands on from Porecki, Holloway too.
6 mins: Ireland 0 Australia 0
After starting on the back foot, Ireland finally get into their opponents' 22... but there's a good turnover for Australia and they get the ball back.
Kicked back to Ireland, but then Hansen has a dig down the right flank, kicking ahead of himself.
Not super high-quality from Ireland, but the tempo has been impressive.
DISALLOWED TRY: 3 mins: Ireland 0 Australia 0
Ireland have been on the defensive foot right from the get-go.
Australia tap-and-go, get down to within five yards between the posts, spread out to the left and White goes down, exploiting space on the short side.
Disallowed for a neck roll in the build-up.
Injury update on Johnny Sexton
He suffered a calf injury in the latter stage of the warm up.
1 min: Ireland 0 Australia 0
First scrum, Ireland knock-on, their left side, edge of their 22.
Australia get us under way.
A moment of silence
For former Munster and Ireland lock Jerry Holland who passed away this week at the age of 66.
An update on Johnny Sexton from Charles Richardson at the Aviva Stadium
Johnny Sexton has been ruled out of this match – at the shortest of notice.
There had been no official word but the stadium announcer has just ran through the teams, with Jack Crowley of Munster named at fly-half. It must have been a very late call, as Sexton's picture appeared on the big screen while the announcer screamed "Jack Crowley". Sexton's replacement as skipper has not been named yet, but Peter O'Mahony would surely be the front-runner.
Ross Byrne, Sexton's Leinster understudy, was filling in at fly-half with the replacements in the warm-up so presumably he will take Crowley's spot on the bench.
A massive blow for Andy Farrell; but a massive opportunity for this side to show they can do it without their talisman.
The teams emerge at the Aviva – can Ireland pull of the southern hemisphere trinity?
A reminder of the line ups tonight.
Australia: Kellaway, Nawaqanitawase, Ikitau, Paisami, Wright, Foley, White; Slipper, Porecki, Alaalatoa, Frost, Neville, Holloway, Hooper, Valetini.
Replacements: Fainga'a, Robertson, Tupou, Skelton, Samu, Gordon, Lolesio, Petaia.
Ireland: Keenan, Hansen, Ringrose, McCloskey, O'Brien, Crowley, Gibson-Park; Porter, Sheehan, Furlong, Beirne, Ryan, O'Mahony, Van der Flier, Doris.
Replacements: Herring, Healy, Bealham, McCarthy, Conan, Byrne, Casey, Aki.
A change at the 11th hour.
Johnny Sexton is out, Jack Crowley comes in.
Dave Rennie and Andy Farrell
Meanwhile, at Twickenham...
England have snatched a thrilling late draw against the All Blacks (25-25).
My colleague Tom Ward has all the reaction over here.
Mack Hansen taunts Australia ahead of facing homeland
In-form Ireland wing Mack Hansen is looking forward to "going to war" against his native Australia and has no concerns about receiving on-field stick as the Wallabies squad "can't sledge for s---".
Canberra-born Hansen is poised to face his homeland for the first time during Saturday evening's eagerly-anticipated clash in Dublin.
The former Australia Under-20 international, whose mother Diana hails from County Cork, says switching international allegiance is the best decision of his life.
That's what the whole game is about. It's about going to war on the field and then afterwards just being able to have a laugh about it and be able to enjoy a quiet beer or two.
I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be really cool. I haven't played any of these before and a lot of them are good friends of mine. It's going to be a great experience.
Read Ed Elliot's report.
Under pressure Dave Rennie picks only four of the starters from the 28-27 defeat to Italy
It was a side that was good enough to win (against Italy) and we didn’t. So, I’ve got to take responsibility for that.
But I know we have a very determined squad who want to make a statement this weekend.
After last week, (a win) would be massive.
Ireland head coach Andy Farrell said he was embarrassed by his nomination for world coach of the year
It's quite embarrassing really, in regards to you've heard me say plenty of times that we do this together.
When a coach gets any recognition, never mind the coaching staff that are top class in our group, the rest of the staff, the team and how everyone pulls together, we do it together.
I'd 100 per cent take it as a team recognition.
Kick off is at 8pm
Amazon Prime Video if you're tuning in to watch.
Teams: Australia's XV
Kellaway, Nawaqanitawase, Ikitau, Paisami, Wright, Foley, White; Slipper, Porecki, Alaalatoa, Frost, Neville, Holloway, Hooper, Valetini.
Replacements: Fainga'a, Robertson, Tupou, Skelton, Samu, Gordon, Lolesio, Petaia.
Teams: Ireland's XV
Keenan, Hansen, Ringrose, McCloskey, O'Brien, Sexton, Gibson-Park; Porter, Sheehan, Furlong, Beirne, Ryan, O'Mahony, Van der Flier, Doris.
Replacements: Herring, Healy, Bealham, McCarthy, Conan, Casey, Crowley, Aki.
Australia make sweeping changes after shock defeat to Italy
Under pressure Australia coach Dave Rennie picks only four starters from the shock 28-27 defeat to Italy last weekend as he looks for a statement win against the current world No 1 side in Dublin.
The Wallabies lost to France the previous weekend and survived a scare against Scotland in their first Autumn International Test, winning that match by just one point.
They've had a poor season as a whole, losing eight out of 12 tests, leaving the team eighth in the world rankings, below Argentina. Since Rennie took over in 2020, they've won barely a third of their matches
Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan said Rennie still had the backing of the board but he would wait for a post-season review by the governing body's rugby committee.
"Last week was a bad week," McLennan told the Sydney Morning Herald.
"The Italians were as shocked as we were.
"We’ll do a full review at the end of the tour and I'll await the all important Rugby Committee's view."
Ireland's fortunes couldn't be more different this year. They've enjoyed one of their most successful seasons of the professional era, claiming the Six Nations Triple Crown, an historic series win in New Zealand, and triumphing over world champions South Africa.
Head coach Owen Farrell has been shortlisted for the world coach of the year award alongside France boss Fabien Galthie, England women's head coach Simon Middleton and New Zealand women's Wayne Smith.
But Farrell is not taking anything for granted this evening and knows how dangerous this opponent can be.
"There is a good majority of our players who have never played against Australia before and don't quite know the mentality of the Australian team," he said.
"I've played against Australia all my life and I know the mentality.
"They know they can beat anyone in world rugby on any given day and that's why they're such a threat and when you add to that Dave Rennie, we know what he brings to a team.
"He's a wise, wise coach that has been around for a long time and won a lot of things. He's a very shrewd coach so they are very dangerous and it's a perfect game for us at the weekend."