Wallabies embracing Ireland 'grand final'

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

A home series clean sweep is out of reach for the Wallabies, but playmaker Bernard Foley is relishing the chance to play a ‘grand final’ against Ireland in Sydney next weekend.

Ireland’s 26-21 win in Melbourne evened up the series and turned the Sydney Test into a decider - a rare chance to play a do-or-die Test.

“I think, 'How good',” Foley said.

“It's a decider, we would've liked to have sealed it up in two but to come back to a decider in Sydney and a sell-out crowd in front of our home fans is something we're just going to have to really embrace, really enjoy.

“I think it's just excitement, you don't get too many challenges like this, when it comes down to, it's like a grand final.”

The Wallabies will have to up the ante in Sydney, after being beaten in the physicality stakes, but Foley dismissed the notion that had anything to do with facing a largely changed Ireland lineup, that included its top-line stars.

“They're all world-class players, they didn't get to number two in the world for no reason, so it wasn't like we got caught off-guard and last week was familiarising ourselves with them,” he said.

“We're well aware that they're all quality players, capable players and if we give them enough possession in the right end of the field, they're going to be a dangerous side.

“For us, it's nullifying that, nullifying how much time and space they can have and on the flipside, when we're holding the ball we can hold that for sustained periods and keep the pressure on.”

Australia had only 25 per cent possession for much of the game, but still managed to score three tries to Ireland’s two, something that Foley said gave their group hope that they could turn things around.

“Going out there scoring three tries to two, is a positive, with so much little possession,” he said.

“The more we can try and play our game and stick to it, I think the more threatening it's going to be and at Test match level, it comes down to those little things,” he said.

"That's probably where a couple of opportunities last night we missed was just being a little bit off and missing that detail and that's probably going to hurt us in Test match footy and I think we learned a really valuable lesson last night.”

Discipline will be a major focus again, after a yellow card and a run of five penalties to start the game, but prop Scott Sio said they would work to rectify that, after their leaders took a stand during the game on Saturday, to turn that string around in the opening half hour.

“Yeah a lot of credit to our leaders getting us in tight, understanding that the momentum wasn't with us at the time,’ he said.

“I think it's really important in those crucial moments of the game that we get the right message and get on the same page there and a lot of that is down to our leaders making sure we know what our plan is moving forward.”

The Wallabies travel to Sydney on Sunday ahead of the third June Test.

Australia hosts Ireland in the third June Test on Saturday June 23, kicking off at 8:05pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS, Channel Ten and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO.