The Wallabies have been left “gutted” after a brave, late gamble blew up in their face against Ireland in Sunday morning.
The Wallabies suffered a third consecutive heartbreaking, narrow defeat on their miserable Spring Tour, despite a brave performance that has won plenty of admiration from Australian rugby commentators
Ireland secured the 13-10 win after the Wallabies had a late penalty opportunity to tie the game up.
Instead the Wallabies gambled everything with a late attack — but it didn’t pay off.
The win is Ireland’s record-equalling 12th home Test success at Lansdowne Road, despite missing talismanic captain Johnny Sexton.
It was the first time Ireland had defeated Australia three times in a row since 1968.
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A late penalty by Ross Byrne was all that separated the two sides.
The Irish will enter the World Cup year ranked number one in the world and are the first team since England in 2002 to defeat the All Blacks, the Springboks and the Wallabies in a calendar year.
England went on to win the World Cup in 2003 but based on this performance the Irish will need to up their game significantly even to make the semi-finals for the first time.
For the Wallabies the path ahead is even tougher.
It was a tough result having lost by a point both to France and then in an historic defeat to Italy.
“I’m just gutted the way that ended,” Wallabies captain James Slipper said.
“We had a chance there to win the game. We wanted to make a response after last week, and I thought we did that.
“It’s just been one of those tough years, but we’re sticking tight and we’re staying through the hard times.”
Former sport journalist Sam Phillips summed it up in a Twitter post: “As a fan, at some point, you’re supposed to get some pay for sticking through the bad years. Will we ever get it from the Wallabies?
“They are genuinely excruciating to watch atm. You’d almost rather lose by big margins than sit through this weekly.”
Former Wallaby Justin Harrison said in commentary for Nine it was a “hugely disappointing” result that will hurt the Wallabies “for some time”.
Australian wing Mark Nawaqanitawase told Amazon: “100 per cent, we put pride back in the jersey after the Italy defeat.
“We’re definitely gutted. We got ourselves in the right position there.
“Discipline has been one of the things we’re working on and obviously it’s hurt us again — as a result, we’ve come so close.”
The Australians looked the most dangerous of the two sides when they had possession and Nawaqanitawase took the eye in particular.
The second-half took a while to warm up and Bernard Foley levelled the match 15 minutes in with a sweetly-struck penalty.
The Irish finally put an incisive attack together — spear-headed by Caelan Doris — Bundee Aki rounding it off.
Jack Crowley converted for 10-3 with just over 12 minutes remaining. The visitors, though, hit back as Petaia went on his own despite an overlap and touched down — Foley converted for 10-10 with 10 minutes remaining.
The Irish, though, retook the lead when Ross Byrne, who had come on for Crowley, kept his nerve and landed a penalty with less than four minutes to play.
There looked set to be a late twist as the Australians pressed deep in Irish territory but twice they surrendered possession and it was with some relief that the Irish greeted the final whistle.
Australia’s coach Dave Rennie bemoaned the fact his side conceded so many penalties (12) with defeat putting even more pressure on him with just four wins in 16 Tests since the beginning of November 2021.
“It’s frustrating because a number of those happened when we were in attacking positions,” Rennie told Amazon.
“We’ll put out a good side next week (against Wales) and look to finish on a positive note.”
Australia faces Wales next Sunday morning AEDT.
— with AFP