Ireland v Australia: Five classics from their rugby union history ahead of Test series
Tune into Sky Sports Action and Main Event from 10.45am on Saturday to watch the first Test between Ireland and Australia.
By Michael Cantillon
Last Updated: 06/06/18 3:37pm
This Saturday sees the beginning of Ireland's three-Test series against the Wallabies in Australia, live on Sky Sports Action.
There have been 33 encounters between the pair since 1927 but we've chosen five classic matches to whet the appetite ahead of this weekend's opener at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane...
Australia 12-27 Ireland - 3 June 1979, Brisbane [Summer Test series]
The last occasion in which Ireland won a tour of any description in the southern hemisphere against one of the old Tri-Nations, an Ollie Campbell and Colin Patterson inspired outfit were sensational as they overcame the Wallabies at Ballymore Stadium in Brisbane in the first Test of a two-Test tour.
The half-backs combined for all 27 points as Patterson notched a brace of scores, and Campbell added two conversions, four penalties and a drop goal - tries were still only worth four points.
Such a comprehensive display set the foundation for a tight 9-3 second Test victory and 2-0 series win, with 1979 remarkably the most recent year in which any Ireland side has beat a Wallabies one on Aussie soil.
Such an alarming stat is offset by the fact there has been 10 encounters Down Under in the 39 years since, but it is still a pretty poor record for the Irish.
Little did the class of '79 know Ireland would still be seeking their next win in Australia almost four decades later.
Ireland 18-19 Australia - 20 October 1991, Dublin [Rugby World Cup quarter-final]
During rugby's second-ever World Cup, the two nations put on one of the most exciting knockout ties in the tournament's history as Ireland very nearly pulled off what would then have been the greatest of all upsets.
Heading into the game as massive underdogs, Ireland trailed for the vast majority but remained in touch via the boot of Ralph Keys.
David Campese was at his free-flowing best, stepping and jinking his way over for one superb try and finishing off another to put Australia on their way to a semi-final place until a famous breakaway try with four minutes left by backrow Gordon Hamilton, latching onto the offload of Jack Clarke to finish in the corner, cued delirium at Landsowne Road.
Australia never panicked, however, and with just two minutes remaining on the clock Campese broke through again before producing a marvellous offload for Michael Lynagh to touch down and break Irish hearts.
Australia would go on to beat New Zealand in the semi-final and then England in the final to claim their first World Cup.
Australia 17-16 Ireland - 1 November 2003, Melbourne [Rugby World Cup pool stages]
Fast forward 12 years to rugby's fifth ever World Cup and the sides played out another classic as the Wallabies once again won by the slenderest of margins - this time on home soil.
While both nations did progress to the quarter-finals, this final Pool A fixture was highly significant as the winner would earn a tie against a distinctly average Scotland side, while the loser would have to face a formidable France.
A George Gregan drop goal, plus a try from George Smith and two penalties from Elton Flatley gave Australia a healthy 14-3 advantage at the Telstra Dome in Melbourne, but Eddie O'Sullivan's young Irish side came roaring back in a fantastic second half showing.
Brian O'Driscoll finished magnificently in the corner, Ronan O'Gara converted from the touchline and though Flatley added three more points, an O'Driscoll drop goal put Ireland one point away.
The men in green finished the game the stronger, piling the pressure on, but the Wallabies held on as a late, late David Humphreys drop goal just veered wide.
The result proved significant as Australia comfortably dispatched Scotland 33-16 in Brisbane and would make it all the way to the final, succumbing to England, while Ireland were destroyed 43-21 by France.
Australia 6-15 Ireland - 17 September 2011, Auckland [Rugby World Cup pool stages]
In 2011, Ireland had perhaps one of their strongest panels of players in World Cup history, but Australia were still huge favourites in their pivotal Pool C clash at Eden Park.
Robbie Deans' Wallabies had beaten New Zealand and South Africa en route to the 2011 Tri-Nations Championship and had also beaten the All Blacks, Wales and France - scoring 59 points at the Stade de France - the previous autumn.
Ireland had flattered to deceive since their 2009 Grand Slam success, but their pack set about utterly dismantling the Wallabies in Auckland as Cian Healy made light work of the Australia scrum and Ireland's backrow of Stephen Ferris, Sean O'Brien and Jamie Heaslip ran riot.
Their physical edge overwhelmed Australia, with two Johnny Sexton penalties - he missed a further three - two penalties from replacement Ronan O'Gara and a Sexton drop goal ensuring a dominant Ireland registered a marquee World Cup victory.
Having topped a pool for the first time in their history, however, Ireland fell to Wales in the quarter-finals, while Australia edged past South Africa to make another semi-final - something Ireland are still yet to do.
Ireland 27-24 Australia - 26 November 2016, Dublin [November Autumn Test]
The most recent clash between the two came a year-and-a-half ago at the Aviva Stadium as Ireland made it an unhappy return to Dublin for ex-Leinster head coach Michael Cheika.
Having historically beaten New Zealand in Chicago earlier that November, Ireland had lost to the All Blacks in a bruising and ferocious second clash in Dublin the week before hosting the Wallabies.
As such, a fair degree of pressure was put onto this game as its outcome was decreed the determining factor as to whether Ireland had truly achieved a successful autumn.
Joe Schmidt's charges completely dominated the opening half on the occasion of skipper Rory Best's 100th cap, with converted tries from Iain Henderson and Garry Ringrose, plus a Paddy Jackson penalty putting them 17-0 to the good.
In the final minute of the half though, Dane Haylett-Petty scored a breakaway try against the run of play and suddenly Ireland's dominance had counted for just a 10-point lead.
Then, Irish backs started to drop like flies. Rob Kearney failed a HIA and had to exit, before Andrew Trimble suffered an ankle injury he couldn't shake off. When Jared Payne could not return to the field after worrying kidney trouble during half-time, the back division was unrecognisable.
Connacht scrum-half Kieran Marmion was on the wing, out-half Joey Carbery was at full-back - where he'd yet to feature - while Keith Earls was partnering Ringrose in midfield - a partnership as yet untested, nor trialled.
By 56 minutes, Australia had stormed over for tries through Tevita Kuridrani and Sefanaia Naivalu - and had another two ruled out - for a 24-20 lead as wave after wave of attack kept coming.
Out of nowhere, Ireland managed to break down the field and notch a try through Earls, which Jackson brilliantly converted, and somehow, for the final quarter, a depleted and severely stretched Ireland hung on for a stunning victory.
In doing so, they became just the second Northern Hemisphere nation in history - after England in 2002 and 2003 - to defeat Australia, New Zealand and South Africa all in the same calendar year.
It was also the first time Ireland had achieved back-to-back wins over Australia - November 2014 and November 2016 - since that 1979 Tour.