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'He's really deserving of that man-of-the-match award' - Furlong on fire

The Ireland tighthead was superb in the set-piece and in the loose against the Wallabies.

Murray Kinsella reports from Melbourne

WHILE TADHG FURLONG sometimes bulldozes his way to linebreaks, he doesn’t usually get the chance to burst into completely open field.

Running an excellent line off a superb Garry Ringrose pass in the first half of Ireland’s 26-21 win over the Wallabies in Melbourne, though, Furlong had the opportunity to do exactly that.

Tadhg Furlong scores his sides second try Furlong scored a second-half try. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The Ireland tighthead could perhaps have done better in behind the defensive line and the passage will go down as a missed chance for Joe Schmidt’s side, but it was a thrilling moment for the thousands of Irish fans at AAMI Park.

It was also one part of a seriously impressive man-of-the-match performance by the 25-year-old, who continues to show why he is rated as being among the best front row players in world rugby.

Furlong carried powerfully against the Wallabies, barging through Nick Phipps’ tackle for Ireland’s crucial second try, and although he only had to make four tackles in defence, his work-rate was as high as ever.

The Irish scrum had a fine outing after the disappointment of conceding a key penalty late in the first Test and Furlong played a muscular role in that area, as well as with his usual strong lifting in the lineout.

“It must have been that spectacular dive to reach and get that try, I didn’t realise his arms were that long – he obviously wasn’t reaching into his pocket… but I thought he did incredibly well to reach out and score that try,” said Schmidt of Furlong’s man-of-the-match award.

“He scrummed well, his linebreak in the first-half – he got lonely, he was in so much space that he got a little bit confused but then he tried to throw this mountainous pass out to the edge which got intercepted.

“It’s not enough for Tadhg, he got it back then which was super play. Defensively, he worked really hard.

“He’s really deserving of that man-of-the-match award, there’s a few other guys like Pete [O'Mahony] beside me, Pete’s three turnovers were crucial and he’d a couple of really good ball carries, good lineout pressure that he provided.

Tadhg Furlong makes a break Furlong made a big linebreak in the first half. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“There’s James Ryan again, CJ Stander – that relentless energy that they bring to the side.

“There’s a host of guys that worked really hard tonight, but you have to. You just have to against a side of that calibre.”

It was a fine outing for Niall Scannell too, the Munster hooker having been handed a big opportunity in the number two shirt.

His set-piece work was strong and although he threw one loose offload to Wallabies captain Michael Hooper shortly before being replaced, he was otherwise excellent around the pitch and robust in contact.

“I thought our scrum was solid,” said Schmidt.”He’s probably our biggest scrummaging hooker and I thought he threw really well early on as well. It was a tough lineout for Rob Herring to come on and replace him, and he slightly underthrew that one close to the line and that was a frustration for us.

“But then for anyone who has had a good look at Rob’s game already, I thought his energy was huge. He got off the line and made tackles.

“So those two guys both did well I thought and to have Sean Cronin in reserve to potentially come into the reckoning next week is a real asset for us.

“I know we’ll look back at Niall’s game and he’ll look back at it, and we’ll try to forge a little bit of a pathway to progress a little bit further.”

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Murray Kinsella

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