10 Dec, 12:23
Ireland's John Lacey will referee his first ever RBS 6 Nations while Alain Rolland is also included in the Elite Panel in what is his last season.
Pictured above: The Ireland team and replacements join IRFU President Peter Boyle for the official photograph before the start of last Sunday's Guinness Autumn Test against Australia.
The win marked the first time Ireland have beaten Southern Hemisphere teams in consecutive Test matches, coming off the back of the 32-15 defeat of South Africa.
A Fergus Slattery-captained Irish side managed two straight victories over Australia on the 1979 summer tour, while nine months and a whole Five Nations championship separated Ireland's wins over South Africa (9-6, January 1965) and Australia (15-8, 1967). Ray McLoughlin ('65) and Noel Murphy ('67) were the respective skippers back then.
The Irish team that secured the 40th win of coach Eddie O'Sullivan's 59-Test reign. Next up at Lansdowne Road are the Pacific Islanders, who draw on players from the Fijian, Samoan and Tongan national teams. O'Sullivan's charges have beaten all three individual sides since 2002, including the hard-fought 40-19 (v Tonga) and 40-14 (v Samoa) wins on the 2003 summer tour.
Ireland can take much encouragement from last weekend's triumph over the Wallabies - incredibly they are the first European team to keep Australia tryless in a Test match since their own 18-9 win over the Aussies at Lansdowne Road in November 2002.
Ireland's New Zealand-born scrum half Isaac Boss makes a break off the back of a ruck during last weekend's Test match in weather-beaten Dublin. Boss is hoping his display against the Wallabies is enough for him to hold onto the number 9 jersey for the final Test of the Guinness Autumn Series against the Pacific Islanders.
It will be another early rise for his family back in New Zealand if he does start. Before the Australian game, Boss admitted: "There's a lot of excitement back home. At least I've given them a good reason to get up at five o'clock on a Monday morning, New Zealand time.
"That's pressure - if I make a mistake my brothers will be the first to let me know about it!"
All eyes are on Ireland out-half Ronan O'Gara as he restarts after an early penalty from Australian skipper Stirling Mortlock. O'Gara took his Irish points record to 660 points as he struck three penalties and a conversion last weekend. He has scored in 58 of his 65 appearances for the men in green.
Recalled full-back Geordan Murphy tries to lunge in for Ireland's opening try in the right corner at the Lansdowne Road end. The tackles of Chris Latham and Wycliff Palu were enough to keep the 28-year-old Naas-born flyer from scoring.
Murphy seems to peak, in scoring terms, in the eleventh month of the year - weirdly eight of his 17 Test tries have come in the month of November (Japan (November 2000), Samoa (November 2001), Fiji (2) (November 2002), USA (2) (November 2004), Romania (November 2005) and Australia (November 2006)).
Murphy, met by the considerable combined force of Latham and Palu, just loses control of the ball as the Australian try line approaches. The Leicester Tigers full-back/winger said afterwards: "I went close to getting the opening try but had it ruled out by the TV match official. I honestly didn't know if I had scored.
"I knew the ball had popped out but I was hoping I had made the line by that stage. As it turns out, I was an inch or two short."
Denis Hickie showed superb footwork and skill to dodge past three Australian defenders (Clyde Rathbone, Chris Latham and Lote Tuqiri) and duck under the tackle of Stephen Larkham to register Ireland's first try, after Ronan O'Gara had picked him out with an off the cuff crossfield kick.
Despite not having been selected to start for Ireland since March 2005, St. Mary's clubman Hickie has actually now scored three tries in his last six international apperances. The Dublin also dotted down against Italy and Scotland in the '05 RBS 6 Nations.
Sprung by another well-weighted O'Gara kick, Hickie almost got in for his second try during a patternless second half. However, both Chris Latham and replacement winger Scott Staniforth (out of picture) had tracked the Ireland number 11's run well and bundled him into touch.
Munster and Ireland lock Paul O'Connell grimaces as he tries to break through the challenge of Australia's Tai McIsaac during Ireland's second win of the Guiness Autumn Series. Ronan O'Gara, who was again instrumental in guiding Ireland to victory over Tri-Nations opposition, was quick to dish out the plaudits to the Irish pack when reflecting on the game.
He said: "The back row were really outstanding. I thought Donners (Donncha O'Callaghan) had a massive game and Paulie (Paul O'Connell) was excellent as well. The front row stood up very well too.
"So we've quality all over the field. I think nowadays Irish forwards are comfortable on the ball and their skill levels have risen considerably and that gives us so many more options."
**All photos by Inpho Photography**
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