The Wallabies have conceded the Lansdowne Trophy in a 2-1 series loss to Ireland.
1. Series proves a winner
The Wallabies may have fallen heart-breakingly short of a June Series win, but every Test delivered an enthralling, gripping contest in the past three weeks. Yes, Australia will have regrets, but the way the matches have unfolded, culminating in a record Allianz Stadium crowd on Saturday night, can only be a good thing for Australian rugby. There were some brutal contests in every position, and the Wallabies certainly won a few of those along the way. The buzz leading into the Test this week grew day by day, and the aggregate score across the series was in fact 55-all, a reflection of the tightness of these sides.
2. Hammy fells durable Hooper
Michael Hooper is one of Australia’s most durable rugby players, and the sight of the Wallabies skipper limping off the ground on Saturday night was an unfamiliar one for many. Hooper hasn’t missed a Test in close to three years, last sitting out Australia’s 2015 Rugby World Cup match against Uruguay. Hooper sets the tone for the Wallabies and the only upside for them might be that this was the final June Test, and he should be tracking okay for the first Bledisloe. The Waratahs will be worried, though, with their skipper likely to miss a critical Super Rugby clash against the Rebels next weekend.
3. Wobbly preparation doesn’t hurt Ireland
They turned up half an hour late after being confronted with unexpected road closures, but Ireland didn’t appear to waver once they hit the ground. The Irish won plenty of the critical passages, increasing their dominance when they had a man down and restricting the Wallabies when it was the other way around. CJ Stander was outstanding for Ireland, setting the tone for the rest of his team and Johnny Sexton made the Wallabies pay at every penalty opportunity.
4. TMO adds pain to penalty count
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika spoke ad nauseam about his side’s need to reduce their penalties and win the penalty count. They finished with a 12-11 tally on Saturday night, but conceded five to the boot of Johnny Sexton. Though the Wallabies were their own worst enemy at times, inconsistent refereeing on both sides didn't help. Israel Folau was yellow-carded after an aerial contest saw Ireland skipper Peter O'Mahony stretchered off, though the latter was lifted in an awkward manner. A TMO decision in the final seconds went the way of Ireland as well, leaving the series to finish on a sour note. Discipline is an area the Wallabies need to continue to focus on, but they'll be ruing some 50/50s as much on Saturday night.
5. Bring on the World Cup
The next 15 months can not come quick enough for Aussie rugby fans. An epic series against the world number 2 side proved a glimpse of how open the global tournament is. South Africa and New Zealand have bested England and France, meanwhile Japan was able to surprise Italy in its June Tests. The Pacific Nations have played out some thrillers and the USA even snuck a shock win over Scotland. There is plenty more to come, but if Tests continue to deliver this kind of unpredictability, Japan 2019 will be one of the best.