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Ireland survive injuries, come back to edge Australia 27-24

Reuters logo Reuters 26/11/2016 Padraic Halpin

Simon Zebo celebrates with try scorer Iain Henderson. © Rex Features Simon Zebo celebrates with try scorer Iain Henderson. Ireland claimed a third southern hemisphere scalp in six months on Saturday by surviving a slew of injuries and an improbable comeback to hand Australia their only November tour defeat in a thrilling 27-24 victory.

Leading 17-0 just before halftime, Ireland were forced to field their replacement scrumhalf and flyhalf at fullback and wing to allow Australia take advantage and the lead before a Keith Earls try completed a famous, wild victory.

"They're a great bunch of boys, we had to dig deep with so many changes. There's some very, very young kids out there who stood up today," Ireland captain Rory Best, who became the fifth Irishman to reach 100 caps, said in a pitch-side interview.

Dean Mumm is shown a yellow card. © Brendan Moran/Getty Images Dean Mumm is shown a yellow card. After failing to turn 66 percent of possession into a try in last week's loss to New Zealand, Ireland declined early shots at goal in search of more and got their just reward when Iain Henderson immediately punished flanker Dean Mumm's sin binning.

Already missing Johnny Sexton and Robbie Henshaw, casualties from last week's bruising defeat, and having lost Sean O'Brien just before kickoff, the injuries began to snowball as Rob Kearney and Andrew Trimble exited within the first half hour.

Rob Kearney gets tackled by Henry Speight and Reece Hodge. © Matt Browne/Getty Images Rob Kearney gets tackled by Henry Speight and Reece Hodge. Yet it mattered little, even with third-choice flyhalf Joey Carbery having to fill in at fullback, as a further flurry of linebreaks and relentless carries led to a glimpse of just why Ireland are so excited about Garry Ringrose.

The 21-year-old centre, earning his third cap, picked up a stray pass near the line and found a series of gaps so invisible to anyone else that referee Jerome Garces had to check with his television official, asking the question 'how did he do that?'

Looking set to take their handsome advantage into the break, the hosts were handed a reminder of just how dangerous Australia can be when Dane Haylett-Petty finished off the slickest of moves to cut the gap back to 10 points.

Andrew Trimble gets tackled by Dane Haylett-Petty. © Brendan Moran/Getty Images Andrew Trimble gets tackled by Dane Haylett-Petty. Things got worse when centre Jared Payne failed to emerge after the break and with replacement scrumhalf Kieran Marmion in to make up the most makeshift of backlines, Australia struck almost immediately with a Tevita Kuridrani try.

Paddy Jackson handed an increasingly overawed Irish defence some relief with a penalty but they were being torn apart and a try from electric replacement Sefanaia Naivalu handed the Wallabies the lead for the first time before the hour.

Yet Ireland somehow dragged themselves back into the game with Earls's try and their rejuvenated defence hung on for the final 15 minutes to follow up recent wins over South Africa and New Zealand for an unprecedented Irish treble. 

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