Ireland somehow got over the line after a titanic tussle with Australia at the Aviva Stadium, eventually prevailing in a breathless encounter by a score of 27-24.
Such was the nature of the match, Irish players began to drop like flies in the second half after a near-flawless first half display, allowing the Aussies back into the game and eventually trailing - this despite leading 17-zip on 39 minutes.
Joe Schmidt was forced to turn to his bench as Australia gained the ascendancy, but duly received superb displays from the likes of Simon Zebo - creator of two tries - and forwards Cian Healy and Peter O'Mahony, the latter of whom produced a monumental turnover to all-but seal the deal for his side.
Here are the player ratings as an injury-ravaged Ireland got over the line in Dublin.
Ireland Players Ratings Against Australia
15 Rob Kearney – 6
On his first carry in offence, fell to ground after offloading, and shipped a knee to the head ending his afternoon before it had really begun. Did nothing wrong in his short time on the pitch.
14 Andrew Trimble – 6
A carry in attack early on showed in stark effect his lack of pace on the ball. Forced Israel Folau into a knock-on as he challenged the Aussie fullback in the air for a breaking ball.
Knocked-on from a Jackson pass and break as he struggled to adapt to the pace of the game. Jackson again fed him with a loop pass, which he failed to do much off. Got injured in the same move and was forced off on 30 minutes.
13 Jared Payne – 9
Consistent and virtually faultless. Made his tackles, ran the defensive line, distributed superbly. Essential in the success of this developing team. Forced from the field with injury at half-time. And Ireland had to dig deep to restructure without him; it took the team 20 minutes to do so.
12 Garry Ringrose - 9
Did well to carry into contact after an Earls carry and tempted Tevita Kuridrani into playing the ball on the deck and giving Ireland a penalty. Beat four men on his run to the line for Ireland’s second try. Intercepted from a Hodge pass and attempted offload in the 22, which was essential to prevent the possible try. Forced to move to first centre due the reshuffle after injuries. Launched Ireland in attack when they were fighting hard to get back into the tie just after the hour. That impetus led to the Earls try. Another wonderful tackle on halfway in the last two minutes as he gave everything to the cause. This lad looks the answer for Ireland at 13 for a long time to come.
11 Keith Earls – 7
Made the first initial tackle to force a turnover and win an Ireland penalty. Moved to second centre after the Payne injury. Finished off Zebo’s pass with his usual slick accuracy for Ireland’s third try. Still one of the key men in this squad.
10 Paddy Jackson – 7
Was steady if unspectacular early on as he eased into the game. Did very well to slot a long-range penalty to open the scoring. A loop around with Ringrose and offload to Trimble was one of the outstanding moments of the first half for Ireland. Made a wonderful skip pass to Trimble on the wing just before half-time. With Ireland on the counter his sliced clearance to touch led to the Wallabies countering to score their opening try – his kicking out of hand is not yet where it needs to be for Test rugby. Overall a decent showing and deserves credit.
9 Conor Murray – 7
Excellent covers tackle on Kuridrani in the first half. Wonderful clearance to touch from the kick-off after Ireland’s second try.
1 Jack McGrath - 7
Bounced off a tackle when carrying early on as Ireland set the tempo. Another carry on the quarter of an hour as he once more stepped up as an igniter in attack.
2 Rory Best – 7
Forced a turnover as the Wallabies launched one of their first real attacks in the first quarter. Stopped Hodge from crossing for an Australia try just before half-time with a cover tackle of the very highest order. Again led from the trenches in the second half before leaving the field after 76 minutes. Another solid shift.
3 Tadhg Furlong - 7
Much quieter this week as the effects of the last few weeks’ exertion appeared to have taken their toll. Still stood up well at set-piece time and made a big carry in the build-up to Ireland winning a penalty on 50 minutes.
4 Iain Henderson – 7
Caught flat-footed in the Ireland attack line as they dominated early doors. His support play for Earls was the final link in Ireland’s opening try. He adds that extra back-row option in the front five and that moment showed it.
5 Devin Toner – 7
Didn’t secure a lineout in the right corner under pressure from Dean Mumm early on and Ireland lost their first real attacking opportunity. But was otherwise superb. His usual efficiency in the lineout and made a big contribution in making hard yards with ball in hand.
6 CJ Stander – 9
First lineout take. Started unusually quiet and made first big carry at the end of the first quarter. Wonderful take at the tail in a lineout after the half hour then led the ensuing maul on a charge. Carried in the next phase. Was at the heart of everything Ireland did in the second half both in defence and attack. Keeps getting better and better.
7 Josh van der Flier – 9
Three strong carries in the first half as he continued to display all the signs of developing into one of the team’s key men in attack.
8 Jamie Heaslip - 6
Industrious throughout was the Newbridge College man. Lovely pop from the base of the scrum to Murray. A nuts and bolts performance from a man who looked out on his feet energy wise.
16 Sean Cronin – 6
Brought into action for the last four minutes. Not much time to do much other than man the fort in defence and keep set-piece solid. Did everything that was asked of him.
17 Cian Healy – 7
On for McGrath after 61 minutes and made a crucial clearout after O’Mahony’s carry in the build-up to Earls’ try.
18 Finlay Bealham - 6
Entered the fray on 71 minutes for Furlong and got stuck in as he has done all November series.
19 Ultan Dillane – 6
On for Henderson on 56 minutes. Like the rest of the forward replacements he gave everything to the cause as Ireland looked to steady the ship after the injuries to Kearney, Trimble and Payne.
20 Peter O’Mahony – 8
On for Heaslip after 61 minutes and made an immediate impact as he bumped off Hodge as Ireland pounded the 22 in the lead-up to Earls’ try. Made pivotal turnover as time elapsed.
21 Kieran Marmion – 6
Brought on for the injured Payne at half-time and forced to play right wing. Was part of four Ireland players who bunched up in defence for the Kuridrani try. Two excellent carries out of defence as Ireland tried to relieve intense pressure.
22 Joey Carberry – 7
Entered the fray for Trimble after 31 minutes, playing out of position on the right wing. Made a jinking run in attack and also, combing with Ringrose, covered to intercept Hodge’s attempted offload in the 22 just before the interval. Moved from wing to fullback after the Payne injury. Missed a crucial tackle for Sefania Naivalu’s try. Wonderful take in the air under immense pressure from Hooper to claim.
23 Simon Zebo – 9
Called into action for Kearney after 11 minutes of the tie. Beat three men in attack on a sizzling run down the right flank only to undo his good work by getting pinged for holding on. It’s become a cliché to say it but Zebo has X-Factor. His chip into the 22 for Earls ignited Ireland’s attack for their first try. Moved from fullback to wing after the Payne injury. Beautifully floated pass to assist for Earls’ try.