Ireland 13-10 Australia: Johnny Sexton-less hosts edge out the Wallabies courtesy of late Ross Byrne penalty
Bundee Aki marked his return from an eight-game ban with opening try; Jordan Petaia crossed to level, before fly-half Ross Byrne won it for the hosts; Ireland are the first nation to beat New Zealand, South Africa and Australia in a calendar year since they last managed to in 2016
Last Updated: 20/11/22 7:23am
Ross Byrne landed a dramatic late penalty as Ireland overcame the loss of captain Johnny Sexton to cap a stellar year with a nervy 13-10 win over Australia.
Replacement fly-half Byrne nailed a difficult kick from wide on the right with just three minutes remaining in Dublin to earn Ireland a record-equalling 12th successive home victory.
Ireland 13-10 Australia – Score summary
Ireland – Tries: Aki. Cons: Crowley. Pens: Crowley, R Byrne.
Australia – Tries: Petaia. Cons: Foley. Pens: Foley.
Andy Farrell's men struggled for large parts of a disappointing contest and could easily have ended 2022 with a serious reality check against opponents beaten by Italy just last weekend.
Ireland centre Bundee Aki marked his return from an eight-game ban with the opening try but the game remained in the balance in the closing stages after Jordan Petaia crossed for the Wallabies.
- England pull off late comeback to draw with All Blacks at Twickenham
- Georgia earn historic win over Wales | Tipuric: We let ourselves down
- Russell excels as Scotland beat Argentina side shown four cards
Ireland skipper Johnny Sexton pulled out late and was replaced by Jack Crowley at 10 - who only made his Test debut off the bench vs Fiji last week. Full-back Hugo Keenan and centre Garry Ringrose came in to start. Jimmy O'Brien kept his place from the win over Fiji to start on the left wing, as Rob Baloucoune dropped out of the squad and Mack Hansen swapped to the right. In the forwards, loosehead Andrew Porter, hooker Dan Sheehan, lock James Ryan, flankers Peter O'Mahony and Josh van der Flier returned. Bundee Aki was back on the bench after suspension.
Australia made 10 changes to the starting XV that suffered a shock defeat to Italy. Loosehead James Slipper returned to lead the side for his 126th Test, while full-back Andrew Kellaway, out-half Bernard Foley, scrum-half Nic White, hooker Dave Porecki, second rows Nick Frost and Cadeyrn Neville, and back-rows Jed Holloway, Michael Hooper, Rob Valetini came in.
Jack Crowley, who made his Test debut last week, was successful with both of his goal kicks. He was replaced with eight minutes to go, and Byrne demonstrated nerves of steel when he stepped up and slotted the match-winning penalty.
The Wallabies still had chances to win the game in the final moments. They put a kickable penalty into the corner for a lineout, but the maul was penalised when backs joined from the side. Then in the last seconds, they stole an Irish throw-in inside the 22 only for a dropped pass to hand Ireland the victory.
A difficult evening for the Irish began with talisman Sexton withdrawing through injury, with his deputy Jack Crowley booting five points on his maiden Test start before Byrne, who was elevated to the bench at the 11th hour, proving to be the match-winner.
Victory for Ireland sees them become the first nation to defeat New Zealand, South Africa and the Wallabies in a calendar year since they last managed to in 2016.
Before that, Sir Clive Woodward's England were the last to manage the feat in 2002 and 2003, going on to lift the World Cup in the latter year after achieving the feat. That remains the ultimate goal for Farrell's side looking ahead to next year's showpiece tournament in France.
Ireland defended doggedly in the face of incessant Australia pressure for large parts of the opening period, including at one stage repelling 21 phases, but offered little from an attacking perspective.
The Wallabies thought they had scored a fourth-minute try, only for scrum-half Nic White's effort to be disallowed on review due to Dave Porecki's neck roll on Josh Van Der Flier.
A poor - and, at times, tetchy - Test match was in desperate need of a spark. Ireland scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park looked to have provided it seven minutes after the restart but his score was subsequently chalked off as Canberra-born team-mate Mack Hansen had gone into touch just before a fine offload.
Australia had briefly been reduced to 13 men at that point due to the temporary absence of Folau Fainga'a, who was sin-binned in the 37th minute after high tackle on Van der Flier.
The visitors came through a crucial period in the contest unscathed and were level in the 56th thanks to Foley finding his range with his second penalty.
Ireland eventually made a significant dent on the scoreboard 10 minutes later when replacement Aki came back with a bang by bulldozing over at the end of relentless pressure.
The joy was swiftly cut short as Wallabies substitute Petaia broke clear to cross wide on the right, with Foley landing the tricky conversion. But Byrne would ultimately have the final say with his nerveless kick in the closing minutes.
Farrell: Ireland found a way | 'Delighted' for Byrne
Ireland coach Andy Farrell admits Ireland have "a lot to do" ahead of next year's World Cup after ending a stellar 2022 with their win over Australia.
"It was never in doubt," joked Farrell after the game. "We can pull it apart and we will do and we will learn from all sorts of aspects of the game. But the bigger picture stuff for me is there's two things that went on there.
"Australia made it an absolute dogfight and fair play to them, they were courageous in how they went about their game. It was abrasive to say the least, certainly at the breakdown.
"But for us to back up a few ill-disciplined bits and a few errors technically, tactically and still find a way is a hallmark of a good side.
"That's what all good sides do, you always find a way in the heat of the battle and we're delighted in that regard."
As for the match-winner, Bryne, Farrell said: "It's awesome for him. I was absolutely delighted.
"You know Ross' temperament, it's made for him that type of situation where it's deadlocked.
"It was a tough enough kick when the penalty came but there was no doubt in Ross' mind that he was ever going to do anything but go for the three points, so fair play to him.
"He's waited for that chance and he delivered it and got us over the line."
Andy Farrell's Ireland have now completed their autumn international schedule for 2022, having picked up three wins from three against South Africa, Fiji and Australia. They are next in action at the 2023 Six Nations, where they start against Wales in Cardiff on Saturday, February 4.
Ireland's Autumn Internationals
|Saturday, November 5||Ireland 19-16 South Africa||5.30pm|
|Saturday, November 12||Ireland 35-17 Fiji||1pm|
|Saturday, November 19||Ireland 13-10 Australia||8pm|
For Australia, Dave Rennie and co next travel to face Wales at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday, November 26 (3.15pm GMT kick off), for the last of their five fixtures this autumn.
Australia's Autumn Internationals
|Saturday, October 29||Scotland 15-16 Australia||5.30pm|
|Saturday, November 5||France 30-29 Australia||8pm|
|Saturday, November 12||Italy 28-27 Australia||1pm|
|Saturday, November 19||Ireland 13-10 Australia||8pm|
|Saturday, November 26||Wales vs Australia||3.15pm|