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Dublin: 11 °C Saturday 17 November, 2018


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A very good morning to you, sportsfans.

We know you’ve got a long day ahead of you with World Cup, US Open and GAA to keep an eye on, but stick with us through to lunchtime and I can (almost) guarantee a contest that will not disappoint.

Ireland have been reeling since losing a teak-tough opening Test to Australia last Saturday. With a Grand Slam in their pocket, losing is an unfamiliar taste for Joe Schmidt’s squad and they have Dan Leavy and Johnny Sexton back in harness today in a bid to level up the three-Test series.

Kick-off is at 11am  on Sky Sports Action, ample time to get a hearty breakfast into you before then.

Here’s a reminder of the teams named earlier this week. Michael Cheika’s Wallabies are unchanged, while incoming Munster lock Tadhg Beirne will hope to win his first Test cap from the bench.

Can the addition of Ringrose, Conway, Sexton, Leavy and a new front row make the difference?


15. Israel Folau
14. Dane Haylett-Petty
13. Samu Kerevi
12. Kurtley Beale
11. Marika Koroibete
10. Bernard Foley
9. Will Genia

1. Scott Sio
2. Brandon Paenga-Amosa
3. Sekope Kepu
4. Izack Rodda
5. Adam Coleman
6. David Pocock
7. Michael Hooper (captain)
8. Caleb Timu


16. Tolu Latu
17. Allan Alaalatoa
18. Taniela Tupou
19. Rob Simmons
20. Lukhan Tui
21. Pete Samu
22. Nick Phipps
23. Reece Hodge


15. Rob Kearney
14. Andrew Conway
13. Garry Ringrose
12. Robbie Henshaw
11. Keith Earls
10. Johnny Sexton
9. Conor Murray

1. Cian Healy
2. Niall Scannell
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. James Ryan
5. Devin Toner
6. Peter O’Mahony (captain)
7. Dan Leavy
8. CJ Stander


16. Rob Herring
17. Jack McGrath
18. Andrew Porter
19. Tadhg Beirne
20. Jordi Murphy
21. John Cooney
22. Joey Carbery
23. Jordan Larmour

The teams are out in Melbourne, last call for a quick remote-flick over to Sky Sports Action.

There we are then, a rousing Advance Australia Fair follows a… erm, version of Ireland’s Call and we’re ready for kick-off.

Bernard Foley kicks us off, hanging a short one up for Folau to make an early mark.

It doesn’t come clean, though. So it’s a line-out for Australia to attack off.

Sumptuous early attack from the Wallabies off that line-out, Foley hands a reverse pass to find Beale cutting through Dan Leavy and CJ Stander on a delicious line.

Rob Kearney dives in a last-ditch attempt to snag him, but he’s under the posts.


SIN-BIN: No let-up in the action. Koroibete is yellow carded for tackling Rob Kearney and lifting him above the horizontal.

TRY! Australia 7 Ireland 5 (Conway ’7)

Powerful maul from Ireland as they attack off the penalty against Koroibete, the advantage comes their way but Conor Murray doesn’t need it, spins off to the blindside and floats a cut-out pass to his Munster team-mate to finish in the corner.

And Sexton nails the conversion!

Australia 7 Ireland 7

Ireland’s pack with another big flex, this time in the scrum on the Wallaby 22 and force a penalty, meat and drink for Sexton.

PENALTY! Australia 7 Ireland 10 (Sexton ’13)

The gold jerseys are shook by the pressure Ireland are imposing on them right now. CJ Stander the latest to ratchet up the tempo with a big blockdown forcing a scramble in the Aussie back-field.

16 mins: These Wallabies are made of tough stuff though, Andrew Conway is off injured meaning another early start for Jordan Larmour, Keith Earls has a pass picked off by Folau.

Fortunately, Leavy takes down the big fullback and Captain Pete is soon on the scene to force a breakdown penalty… which Sexton slots.

PENALTY! Australia 7 Ireland 13 (Sexton ’17)

The sin-bin period ends, and it’s been a profitable one for Ireland 13-0 against 14 men.

Personnel numbers are matched again now though and Australia will be vicious when they get on the ball.

Caleb Timu now pinged for a deliberate knock on… Sexton punishes again.

PENALTY! Australia 7 Ireland 16 (Sexton ’21)

This is a ripper of game again, but for completely different reasons that last week’s contest.

Rob Kearney shrugs off a tackle from Michael Hooper as Ireland go on the hunt again.


PENALTY TRY! Australia 14 Ireland 16

Australia maul the life out of Ireland from 7 metres out and Cian Healy is the man singled out for collapsing the move as it reaches the line.

He goes for a sin-bin

There is no clean, simple way to judge where momentum is in this match. Just as Australia rumble over, they lose Will Genia.

Nick Phipps is in the game after 25 minutes.

30 mins: Timu is penalised for a no-arms, off -the -ball hit on JR. Could have easily been a yellow and Australia are let further off the hook as Sexton pulls the 40 metre straight penalty shot wide of the posts.

34 mins: Another huge turnover from Peter O’Mahony allows Sexton clear into Wallaby territory.

The Cork man is having an excellent series.

Big Tadhg Furlong on the rampage. The tighthead advances 30 metres, but looks like the wrong option when he moves to pass and Foley blocks down a long skip-pass attempt.

This is on a knife edge!

A poor pass wide to Larmour is almost hacked clear by Haylett-Petty, but instead the 20-year-old tyro picks up and threatens the Wallaby line.

Henshaw makes a big carry, but Pocock gets that big back arched over the ball again and slows Ireland to a crawl.

Here comes the second half, Sexton gets us under way in Melbourne.

It’s an Ireland team with Jordi Murphy at seven in place of the injured Dan Leavy.

Promising start from Ireland, settling into the power-carrying game with Sexton pulling the strings, but when they get within fiver metres they meet than man Pocock, who pops up with the ball and a penalty for his side.

Ireland continue to dominate possession, but struggling to create openings against a fierce defensive effort from the green and gold.

50 mins: Rob Herring is sent info the fray and his first act is a line-out throw. Tough way to feel yourself into a Test and indeed Herring is picked off and Australia ease the pressure.

He nails his second attempt though and from that platform, Sexton puts Keith Earls through a gap and Ireland are in scoring range.

Rob Kearney shrugs off a tackle and Ireland keep the pace in the attack as Rob Herring comes close to scoring. Jack McGrath thinks he’s over the line but it’s immediately ruled a double movement and we’re playing from scrum V after a penalty.

Breathless stuff.

Terrific strength from Keith Earls to force his way through Folau to touch the ball down after 15 brutal phases of attack from Ireland.

The TMO is called to check Earls’ effort… and calls it a knock-on!


TRY!  Australia 14 Ireland 23 (Furlong ’54)

The Wexford Wonder smashes his way over the try-line and there is no doubt that this one counts. Ireland’s lead is up to nine again.

58 min: Peter O’Mahony is winning a ground war against David Pocock. The Munster skipper forces a third breakdown penalty, this one on his own 22 to cut short any growing gold momentum.

Ireland look in rude health, just need to close this one out.

The great POM’s race is run today. His future provincial team-mate Tadhg Beirne is in to replace him.

Been a hell of a journey for the Eadestown mad to reach this point.

PENALTY! Australia 14 Ireland 26 (Sexton ’66)

Jordi Murphy forces another penalty chance for Ireland and Sexton’s boot has been (almost) perfect today.

The lack of yellow cards for Australians is quite striking today. Bernard Foley is guilty of their latest penalty and his deliberate knock on to deny Ireland attacking wide from deep would very often earn him time in the bin. But on we go.

Closing stages now and Ireland’s defence is being put through its paces as the hosts desperately try to force a way back into the game.

Ireland have this one almost locked up though, Nick Phipps drops the ball at the base of a ruck…. BUT WAIT. The TMO is checking to see if he had a helping hand en route to the error and sure enough finds Jack McGrath practicing the dark arts.

Another Ireland loosehead goes to the sin-bin.

Australia are brave attacking the 14 men, tossing up speculative offloads,but it works for them. After Folau checks inside after making yards out wide the Tongan Thor rumbles over to put this match right in the mixer for the closing minutes.

The Wallabies force a tight finish, but Ireland were in command for the vast majority of that clash and so set up a series decider in Sydney next Saturday.

After two ferocious and finely balanced Tests, who will prevail third time out?

About the author:

Sean Farrell


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