The Wallabies and Ireland are headed to a Sydney series decider.
What are we talking about after Australia's 26-21 defeat to Ireland in Melbourne?
1. Ireland turn the tables on Wallabies
Everyone expected Ireland to be better in Melbourne, and they were. They undid all the advantages the Wallabies had in Brisbane - their defence wasn’t as combative, David Pocock wasn’t as dominant in the breakdown and Johnny Sexton aligned Ireland far better in attack. All of the things that threatened to change with a bolstered lineup this week proved true. Now it’s time for the Wallabies to up the ante in a sell-out Sydney decider.
2. No ball, no score
The Wallabies were starved of possession and territory in Melbourne, a weight that simply became too much for them over the space of the game. Some late phases softened those statistics, but Ireland simply held the ball too much for too long for the Wallabies to make any real in-roads.
3. Ill-discipline rears its ugly head
The Wallabies have spoken about ensuring they’re squeaky clean against Ireland, who are one of the most disciplined sides in the world, but they let that advantage get away from them early. Australia had conceded five penalties before the half hour. Though the final count finished up at 15-12, the penalties the Wallabies gave away were punished heavily by Johnny Sexton and that ultimately proved the difference in the score.
4. Injuries leave Wallabies sweating
The sight of Will Genia clutching his wrist just shy of half-time in Melbourne, will be a worrying one for Wallabies coaches and fans alike. Genia is arguably Australia’s most valuable player, and he is by far the in-form halfback in the Aussie side. When Adam Coleman went off in the 43rd with a face injury, things looked even worse. Though they might not have been game-changing injuries, it’s certainly not going to be easy for Australia to win in Sydney without them.
5. Furlong the real big hitter
Ireland looked like a different side with Johnny Sexton at the helm from the get go, but it was the return of Tadhg Furlong that was a complete game changer for them. Furlong was named man of the match, and was a brute in attack and defence. The tighthead finished with 38 metres from 12 carries, and a dominant scrummaging performance. It was grunt that helped the Wallabies over the line in Brisbane, and it was Furlong that truly put a stamp on the game in Melbourne.