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5 talking points after Ireland's rollercoaster ride against Australia

Including Paul O’Connell’s ability to age like fine wine.

1. Clean sweep

THERE WILL BE some very sore bodies around the Ireland camp this evening, but each one can look at a job well done this series.

For the first time in eight years, Ireland have gone on a winning streak through November and seeing off the challenges of South Africa and Australia will only further boost confidence within Joe Schmidt’s side and allow them to believe they are currently the third best team in the world. How they use that knowledge will be another matter.

2. Start as you mean to go on

Under Schmidt Ireland have made it their business to lay solid early platforms and follow that up by building scores in the second half of games.

In stand-out Tests, though, they go after opponents with everything in the first quarter and that’s what we seen again against Australia.

Tommy Bowe celebrates scoring his side's second try with Jamie Heaslip Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Even before Simon Zebo collected Jonathan Sexton’s cross-field kick, the winger was laying down a marker by laying a big hit on Tevita Kuridrani. That was followed up by big contributions from Rhys Ruddock and Peter O’Mahony to help Ireland build a 17-point lead after just 16 minutes.

3. They pulled us back in

The deficit looked insurmountable, but little by little the intensity began to slightly within green ranks and small the small drop-offs in focus and accuracy invited the Wallabies to make a game of it.

Zebo, having set the early tone, was guilty of trying to force an offload that resulted in Nick Phipps’ try that breathed life in to the visitors. The Corkman should also have put away another kick when given the chance, but slammed it into the hands of Henry Speight. This is not to blame Zebo for the concession of the third try as there were a number of phases that followed (and he more than made up for his errors with a try-saving tackle in the second half), but the delayed decision-making was symptomatic of Ireland’s second quarter.

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4. Indecision around TMOs continue to baffle

The pivotal moment that turned the first half in Australia’s favour – by halving Ireland’s 10-point advantage – was the dubious award of Bernard Foley’s try.

After going upstairs to ask the TMO if there was any reason he could not award the try, referee Glen Jackson could clearly be heard indicating that he was happy with the grounding and was asking Eric Gauzins to focus on the angle of the pass to the number 10.

The pass appeared to move forward a clear two feet before being grabbed by Foley, and even Jackson seemed to express surprise when the decision came back positive.

5. Captain fantastic in his prime

With nails being chewed and nerves jangling, 35-year-old Paul O’Connell was still the man carrying the fight back towards Australia when it would have been easy to drift and attempt to contain.

His late open field hit on Ben McCalman was an iconic moment in a stellar career only seems to be reaching a peak now.

As it happened: Ireland vs Australia, November Tests

About the author:

Sean Farrell

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