It has been quite a year for Irish rugby.
Having secured a fantastic Grand Slam and Six Nations triumph, Joe Schmidt’s brilliant side travelled down under to face a robust Australian outfit.
Ranked second in the world, Ireland looked good money to clinch their first series win over the Aussie’s in many a decade but were left disappointed in the first test after Australia flexed their southern hemisphere muscle.
However, Ireland found their feet quickly and came back hard at the Wallabies in the second test, levelling the series going into today’s decider in Sydney.
Both sides were desperate to avoid losing the series and it showed in what was an extremely physical and abrasive game.
A yellow card apiece punctuated the penalty goals in the first half as the teams went into the break without a try between them.
Eventually, Ireland managed to breach the resolute Australian defence in the second half as they took a decisive step towards securing a historic series win.
Australia weren’t about to be rolled over though, quickly hitting back to force a nerve-wracking finish.
Ireland clung on in the end to win 20-16, and the celebrations that ensued were not all too different to those that followed their Six Nations victory earlier this year.
There were some monumental performances on the day from the boys in green, and none more so than that of Johnny Sexton.
The flyhalf was simply immense, pulling the strings for Ireland while cooly nailing kick after kick under extreme pressure to keep his side out of touch of the chasing Aussies.
Add to that the fact that Sexton took over the captaincy after Peter O’Mahony’s dreadful fall midway the first half, and it begins to become clear just how important Sexton was today.
Sexton has always been known to be a leader, but in the aftermath of the O’Mahony incident, he showed just why.
With O’Mahony left prone in controversial circumstances, Sexton was in the referee’s ear to make sure the right decision was made with regards to the challenge on the flanker.
Watch the video below to hear what Sexton had to say:
“I know you hate me, but you still have to talk to me.”
Brilliant stuff. Sexton wasn’t about the let the referee have a moments peace.
Israel Folau was consequently shown a yellow card and Ireland went straight up the field where, you guessed it, Sexton slotted a penalty.
Number two in the world, a series win down under and a Grand Slam to boot- not a bad years work for Sexton and the boys.
Perhaps a date with the mighty All Blacks beckons?
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