Australia 18-9 Ireland: Tourists' 12-game winning run comes to an end

Bernard Foley's try gave Australia a two-point lead at half-time
Bernard Foley's try gave Australia a two-point lead at half-time
First Test: Australia v Ireland
Australia (8) 18
Tries: Foley, Pocock Con: Foley Pens: Foley 2
Ireland (6) 9
Pens: Carbery 3

Australia ended Ireland's record-breaking winning streak as sterling defence set up a nine-point defeat of the Six Nations champions in Brisbane.

Tries by Bernard Foley and David Pocock helped the Wallabies bring Ireland's 12-game run to a halt.

Foley also kicked two penalties and a conversion for the hosts, who take an early lead in the three-Test series.

Joey Carbery kicked three penalties for the visitors, who had tries by CJ Stander and Kieran Marmion ruled out.

The Wallabies employed an aggressive defensive strategy to effectively unsettle their guests at the Suncorp Stadium with Pocock, Kurtley Beale and Israel Folau continuously disrupting Ireland's rhythm.

Foley's try in the 35th minute gave the home side a deserved two-point advantage at half-time but Ireland thought they had taken control after the restart when Stander barrelled his way over the line.

But the Munster flanker was held up by Australian wingers Marika Koroibete and Dane Haylett-Petty and video replays could not show if he had been able to ground the ball.

Folau then had a try ruled out for foul play in the build up, while Marmion's injury-time score was also cancelled out by the television match official.

Kieran Marmion's late effort was ruled out because of a knock-on
Kieran Marmion's late effort was ruled out because of a knock-on

Wallabies get their homework right

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika was pitting his wits against some of his former Leinster players and he would have been pleased with how his side were able to counteract Ireland's traditional strengths.

Full-back Folau won his head-to-head aerial battle with opposite number Rob Kearney while Beale produced a thundering hit on Conor Murray to snuff out a trademark Irish loop play.

The home side defended with speed and intelligence and Pocock was a constant threat as the Wallabies earned an incredible 14 turnovers.

In contrast, Ireland appeared disjointed in defence with Robbie Henshaw looking uncertain in the outside centre berth.

It took a superb covering tackle by Jacob Stockdale on Koroibete to deny the Wallaby wing the opening score in the 20th minute after Henshaw had charged out of the line but missed his tackle on Beale.

The Leinster man repeated his mistake 15 minutes later when he could not get to Foley in time and the fly-half threw a quick pass to spark the attack that finished with him diving over in the corner.

Stander stopped

Ireland were fortunate to only trail by two points at the break and began the second half in determined fashion with a clever interchange between Bundee Aki and James Ryan, which allowed Stander to barge through the Australian defence.

The South Africa-born number eight showed impressive pace and strength to get to the line but could not get a clear grounding after excellent covering work by the two Australian wings.

The visitors attempted to ratchet up the pressure but Carbery missed a penalty and then Pocock produced a couple of excellent turnovers to help clear their lines.

A rare mistake by the Wallaby blind-side allowed Carbery another shot at goal that saw the visitors move into a one-point lead but the hosts took charge during the final quarter.

Johnny Sexton's second-half introduction failed to turn the game in Ireland's favour
Johnny Sexton's second-half introduction failed to turn the game in Ireland's favour

Building pressure

Ireland swept to the Six Nations title with a game plan based on their ability to retain the ball and put the opposition tacklers under pressure but Australia cleverly used the same tactic against them.

Folau's opportunistic score was called back for a tackle off the ball but it served as a warning for the Irish defence.

The hosts went back on the attack and inched their way closer to the try line through 14 muscular phases only for Samu Kerevi to drop the ball when a score seemed likely.

Undaunted, Australia came again when Folau won another spectacular aerial contest to spark an attack before Stockdale was penalised for not releasing the ball.

The Wallabies scented victory and they tested the Irish defence through nine phases before Pocock darted over for the clinching score.

Line-ups

Australia: Folau; Koroibete, Kerevi, Beale, Haylett-Petty; Foley, Genia; Sio, Paenga-Amosa, Kepu, Rodda, Coleman, Pocock, Hooper, Timu.

Replacements: Latu for Paenga-Amosa (56), Robertson for Sio (62), Tupou for Kepu (56), Simmons for Rodda (56), Tui for Pocock (73), Samu for Timu (49), Phipps for Genia (73), Hodge for Haylett-Petty (62).

Ireland: R Kearney; Earls, Henshaw, Aki, Stockdale; Carbery, Murray; McGrath, Herring, Jo Ryan, Henderson, Ja Ryan, O'Mahony, Murphy, Stander.

Replacements: Cronin for Herring (57), Healy for McGrath (48), Furlong for Jo Ryan (48), Roux for Henderson (64), Conan for O'Mahony (69), Marmion for Murray (77), Sexton for Carbery (57), Larmour for Earls (25).

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