Heartbreak for Wallabies in Sydney series decider

International
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Wallabies have gone down to Ireland 20-16 in the series-deciding June Test, an agonising defeat for the hosts to finish an epic series.

  

It was a night that threw up some high-profile injury headaches for the Wallabies, losing a host of big names.


Wallabies captain Michael Hooper lasted just 15 minutes in Sydney, forced off with a hamstring injury, before lock Adam Coleman limped off just after half-time.


Hooper hasn’t missed a Test since the 2015 Rugby World Cup, where the openside sat out their pool clash against Uruguay, one of Australia’s most durable players in recent years.


The skipper tried to run off the injury, but was ultimately forced off, putting him in serious doubt to play Super Rugby next weekend, and leaving the Wallabies without one of their most important players for 65 minutes.


Coleman attempted to play through a knee issue, but was ultimately forced off for the second week in a row.


The injuries were a sour note on what was another titanic June contest between the two nations, in front of a record 44,085 crowd at Allianz Stadium.


Though all their talk preached better discipline through the week, reckless moments from Sekope Kepu and Adam Coleman opened the door for Johnny Sexton to score the first points in the ninth minute.

Ireland had little possession early but eased their way into Australian territory, a troubling sign for the Wallabies, before Australia got their own pay five minutes later, deep in their attacking territory, as neither side was able to wrestle an advantage.

David Pocock moved into the captaincy and the number seven spot when Hooper went off, with Pete Samu coming on to replace him, with the backrow stepping up in Hooper's absence, in another enthralling battle against their Irish counterparts.

Ireland winger Jacob Stockdale was yellow-carded for an elbow to the face of Nick Phipps in the 21st minute, but it didn’t appear to impede the visitors, who dominated territory and possession with a man down.

A sloppy Samu tackle gave Sexton a chance to level the scores, as the Irish tacked up 84 per cent possession with 14 men.

Ireland lost its captain Peter O'Mahony on the half-hour mark, with Israel Folau handed a controversial yellow card for tackling the player in the air.

O’Mahony was lifted into the air for the contest, and fell awkwardly after the contest, with TMO Ben Skeen deeming Folau touched O’Mahony on his way to the ground, putting him the bin.

Sexton put Ireland in the lead in the 34th minute, opting to go for a penalty despite being just shy of Australia’s line, before the teams traded three-pointers in the final three minutes of the half to give Ireland a 12-9 lead at the break.

Michael Hooper has been forced off with injury. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyIreland’s CJ Stander crashed over three minutes after the break, as they began oi gain ascendancy and momentum, and the Wallabies’ frustrations grew.

Australia struggled for continuity, unable to unleash their attack, but a scrum penalty driven by Sekope Kepu gave them a critical chance.

Two opportunities went begging, but an offside infringement put the Wallabies back in range, and after an agonising wait, Marika Koroibete finally found some pay, collecting a Bernard Foley grubber and breaking through some Ireland defenders to narrow the margin to just one point.

Tolu Latu and Lukhan Tui won pivotal defensive moments for the Wallabies and they began to create more danger for Ireland.


A misjudged Joe Powell pass fell at the fingertips of Foley, after a super Samu Kerevi break lit up Allianz Stadium, but the Wallabies still had territory and Foley had the chance to clinch the lead in the 67th minute, but missed the chance at the sticks.

A controversial ruck penalty gave Sexton what appeared to be the match-sealing penalty, though the Wallabies had one last chance to turn the tables in the final minute, as they linked up in a multi-phase play.

The Wallabies threw it into touch, and though Stockdale appeared to knock the ball down on the way to the line, Skeen deemed there was no clear evidence that he had touched the ball, calling full-time.

Both sides will have their credentials tested again soon, with the Wallabies' next outing in Sydney against New Zealand, and Ireland to face the All Blacks in November.

RESULT

Wallabies 16

Tries: Koroibete 

Cons: Foley 

Pens: Foley 3 

Yellow Cards: Folau (31’) 

Ireland 20

Tries: Stander 

Pens: Sexton 5

Yellow Cards: Stockdale (21’)