Australia helped the Southern Hemisphere earn a hat-trick of wins over their Northern counterparts on Saturday as Eddie O'Sullivan's Ireland were outrun at Lansdowne Road.
permanent tsb International: Saturday, November 19
IRELAND 14 AUSTRALIA 30, Lansdowne Road (Att: 42,000)
Scorers: Ireland: Try: Shane Horgan; Pens: Ronan O'Gara 2, David Humphreys
Australia: Tries: Drew Mitchell 2, Chris Latham; Cons: Mat Rogers 3; Pens: Mat Rogers 3
Unfortunately, the Test debut of young Ulster centre Andrew Trimble and Shane Horgan's late try - his 13th in 39 Test matches - were two of few Irish highlights on the day as O'Sulivan's charges crashed to their second successive defeat against a touring side.
There was certainly a marked improvement in the performance levels from last week's 45-7 loss to the All Blacks, but having been 6-3 up at half-time, Ireland fell away disappointingly in the second half.
The home side, led by Llanelli flanker Simon Easterby for the second time, allowed the Wallabies, who were ending their win drought, in for two soft tries, both scored by winger Drew Mitchell, that sandwiched a well-taken effort by full-back Chris Latham.
Ireland fly-halves Ronan O'Gara (2) and David Humphreys shared out three penalties, but try-scoring chances were at a premium and Horgan's 77th-minute score was little more than a consolation.
Showing just the one change from last week (Trimble in for Anthony Horgan in an indirect swap), Ireland looked the better side for much of a a listless opening half. The rugby on show was lacking in top-tier quality, but the men in green dogged it out and went in front on 7 minutes from an O'Gara penalty.
At the other end, Australian scrum-half and captain George Gregan crossed the whitewash only to be hauled back for an earlier obstruction.
Then, a barging Denis Leamy run on 16 minutes saw Wasps flanker Johnny O'Connor dart through a gap in the Wallabies' midfield but unfortunately he could not find Gordon D'Arcy, his chief support runner, on his right shoulder.
D'Arcy did get the ball as it was recycled and hooker Shane Byrne was sent burrowing up the right wing, but the move petered out when lock Malcolm O'Kelly was flung to the Lansdowne Road turf and left slightly concussed by a heavy double hit on him by Lote Tuqiri and Nathan Sharpe.
Ireland's record caps holder O'Kelly was, in O'Sullivan's words, "out for the count", and following lenghty treatment, he was replaced by Ulster tyro Matt McCullough.
English referee Chris White had awarded Ireland a penalty before O'Kelly was hauled down but O'Gara, who struggled to find his usual form, skewed it wide. His opposite number Mat Rogers gleefully accepted a quick chance to reply on 26 minutes when Ireland strayed offside, and he levelled at 3-3.
Some back chat from Latham before the break saw a penalty chance put in O'Gara's range, just past the visitors' ten-metre line, and the Munster man duly obliged for a 6-3 half-time lead.
It could and should have been a bigger Irish lead though - Tommy Bowe missed out on a glorious chance for the first try through no fault of his own in the closing stages of the first half. A sweeping move off a set scrum in the right corner saw O'Gara, D'Arcy and Geordan Murphy combine to arch Ireland out to the left flank and into space - a killer pass was called for but with Bowe haring up the touchline, Murphy's offload was far too high and found touch.
Two minutes after the restart, a silly infringement allowed Rogers square it up at 6-6 - the Wallabies mustered ten points in the first five minutes of the second half to really put Ireland under pressure.
Mitchell's first try saw the Irish defence carved open after a kick ahead from Bowe in attack had seen Gregan's side regoup and sting the home side on the counter. Mitchell took hold of possession in the Irish '22, he slipped a tackle from Peter Stringer, and was then helped over the Irish line by his supporting players with television match official Huw Watkins confirming the score.
Rogers, who had an immaculate afternoon with the boot, converted for 13-6. Humphreys, on for O'Gara, chipped away at the lead with a left wing penalty just near the hour, but Australia stepped on the gas to push 27-9 clear.
A dropped pass from McCullough saw the Wallabies reset themselves in defence and they bagged another counter attack try when man-of-the-match Latham scored off the move of the match.
The Queensland flyer shurgged off the tackles of Humphreys and O'Connor on his own 22 before powering clear and stepping past Murphy for a gloriously opportunistic 80-metre try, which Rogers converted.
Moments later, Australia lost their number 8 George Smith to the sin-bin for a late tackle on Stringer,. However, on 72 minutes, Mitchell's second try had the game killed off and the Wallabies' seven-game losing streak at an end.
Replacement hooker Tatafu Polata-Nau gathered in possession and sent Mitchell on his way. The young winger displayed great strength to fend off the last-gasp tackles of Bowe and Horgan in the left corner to touch down.
Rogers converted, but once again, just like last week, Irish heads failed to drop and a smart move on the right, which saw good hands from both Marcus Horan and Murphy, put Horgan racing over near the posts for his first try since the tour to South Africa in June 2004.
Humphreys missed the conversion leaving ex-rugby league ace Roger to have the final say with a successful injury-time penalty.
The sides meet again Down Under on June 10 next year.
In the more immediate future, next Saturday sees Ireland face Romania at Lansdowne Road (kick-off 12.30pm) in their final autumn international of 2005, while Eddie Jones' Wallabies have a date with Six Nations champions Wales in Cardiff (5.00pm).
To complete a trio of Northern Hemisphere wins on Saturday, South Africa got the better of Wales, winning 33-16 at the Millennium Stadium, while New Zealand hung on for a 23-19 victory over England at Twickenham which keeps their "Grand Slam" tour hopes alive.
Next weekend, the All Blacks meet Scotland, 18-11 winners over Samoa on Sunday, in their final tour match at Murrayfield.
Ireland: Geordan Murphy; Shane Horgan, Andrew Trimble, Gordon D'Arcy, Tommy Bowe; Ronan O'Gara, Peter Stringer; Marcus Horan, Shane Byrne, John Hayes, Donncha O'Callaghan, Malcolm O'Kelly, Simon Easterby (capt), Johnny O'Connor, Denis Leamy.
Replacements used: Matt McCullough for O'Kelly (18 mins), David Humphreys for O'Gara (51), Rory Best for Byrne (52-56). Not used: Simon Best, Neil Best, Kieran Campbell, Girvan Dempsey.
Australia: Chris Latham; Mark Gerrard, Lote Tuqiri, Morgan Turinui, Drew Mitchell; Mat Rogers, George Gregan (capt); Greg Holmes, Brendan Cannon, David Fitter, Hugh McMeniman, Nathan Sharpe, John Roe, Phil Waugh, George Smith.
Replacements used: Al Baxter for Fitter (51 mins), Wendell Sailor for Gerrard (63), Mark Chisolm for McMeniman (69), Tatafu Polata-Nau for Cannon (71), Matt Henjak for Gregan (73), Scott Fava for Roe (76). Not used: Lloyd Johansson.
Referee: Chris White (England); Touch Judges: Tony Spreadbury (England), Tappe Henning (South Africa); Television Match Official: Huw Watkins (Wales).