IRELAND DELIVERED THEIR ‘best performance of the season’ to win another thrilling Test match in Melbourne, as Joe Schmidt’s side levelled the series and set up a mouth-watering decider in Sydney next week.
You can read our match report from AAMI Park here, and below we take a closer look at the individual performances.
Rob Kearney: 7
Solid as ever under the high ball, rebounded well from a couple of uncharacteristic mistakes last week, and a return of 53 metres made from 12 runs is an indication of his impact on the ball. Made an important late tackle when Ireland were under pressure.
Andrew Conway: 7
The Munster winger had worked hard to earn his chance and certainly took his try brilliantly, showing his strength and dexterity in the corner after Conor Murray’s exquisite skip pass, but injured himself in the act of scoring. Was replaced by Jordan Larmour after 15 minutes.
Garry Ringrose: 8
While the Leinster centre was always going to add to Ireland’s attacking game, it was his defensive contributions which stood out again, as he marshalled the outside edge brilliantly and his big hit on Kurtley Beale when rushing off the line was textbook.
Robbie Henshaw: 7
Looked much sharper alongside his club team-mate in Ringrose, and showed great hands throughout when standing at first receiver off the first phase of play.
Keith Earls: 7
Always stands up defensively and didn’t shirk his responsibilities here, making a succession of vital tackles late on to complement a couple of bright moments in attack, most notably a brilliant aerial take in the first half. Was unfortunate not to get his name on the scoreboard, as the TMO ruled his second-half effort out.
Johnny Sexton: 9
Looked pumped up from the off as he settled back into the number 10 jersey and a sweet touchline conversion after Conway’s score was a sign of things to come, as Sexton pulled the strings throughout. Missed a straightforward penalty but that was otherwise a minor blot on his copybook. Another masterful and hugely influential display.
Conor Murray: 8
Murray’s looping pass off his left for Conway to dive over in the corner was a thing of beauty, and underlined the scrum-half’s vision and ability to execute in pressurised and key moments. His distribution is so sharp and with quick ball, ensured Ireland played with impressive tempo.
Cian Healy: 6
Conceded a penalty try and was sent to the bin for collapsing a powerful Australia maul on the occasion of his 80th cap before going off injured shortly into the second half. Replaced by Jack McGrath.
Niall Scannell: 7
His selection raised a couple of eyebrows but the Munster hooker more than justified his inclusion with a strong showing. Brought intensity early on with a couple of meaty carries and was very solid at the set-piece. Replaced by Rob Herring after 49 minutes.
Tadhg Furlong: 9
Named man of the match and was fully deserving of the award after a powerful performance, epitomised by his burst through midfield in the first half and then a crucial second-half score. 12 carries, a line break and six defenders beaten is just a snapshot of what Furlong brought to the party, while he did some superb work at the breakdown to help disrupt Wallaby ball.
James Ryan: 8
Colossal again (what’s new?) as he carried with ferocity, tackled like a man possessed and worked tirelessly around the park for 80 minutes. Finished the game with 11 tackles, second only behind CJ Stander.
Devin Toner: 8
Brilliant display from the returning second row as he reminded everyone of his enduring quality at Test level, as he brought composure to the set-piece and ensured Ireland had clean ball from the line-out.
Peter O’Mahony: 9
Talk about leading from the front, as O’Mahony stepped up to the mark to reduce the impact of Pocock and co. at the breakdown with an outstanding display on the ground. He forced two turnover penalties in the first half alone and added a second-half line-out steal and fourth turnover to his personal ledger after the break. Was replaced by debutant Tadhg Beirne after 63 minutes after a Trojan shift. World class.
Dan Leavy: 6
Not Leavy’s finest game as he was caught by Foley’s inside pass in the build-up to Australia’s early try and while he made some typically big carries, didn’t reappear for the second period with what appeared to be a hip problem.
CJ Stander: 8
Perhaps could have done better defensively for Beale’s try but Stander grew in stature as the game wore on, relishing the physical nature of the contest as he made 11 carries and finished as Ireland’s top tackler with 13. A tireless shift at the back of the scrum.
Larmour looked his usual lively self when he came on for Conway early doors, while McGrath was solid at scrum time after replacing Healy, but was sent to the bin late on for a deliberate knock on. Was a little unfortunate, to be fair.
Herring never lets Schmidt down, Jordi Murphy made his mark with an important steal which allowed Sexton slot over another three points and Andrew Porter added aggression in a number of big collisions.
Beirne got on for his first taste of international rugby and made a couple of crucial tackles while John Cooney and Joey Carbery were introduced late on.
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