Ireland’s summer tour ended in defeat as Australia came from behind to win their one-off Test at the Subiaco Oval in Perth.
In front of a raucous crowd of 38,200, the visitors took the game to the Wallabies but ran out of steam towards the end.
Second-half tries from Ronan O’Gara and Neil Best had given Ireland a fighting chance but the Aussies hit back to win through Mark Gerrard, Greg Holmes, George Gregan and Cameron Shepherd.
It took 13 minutes for the first points to be registered with Stirling Mortlock slotting a penalty following an Irish offside.
Ireland tried their best to hold firm in defence but they could not resist the Wallaby attack for long, with Chris Latham crossing for the opening try after a slick move.
Ireland opened their account five minutes later after a good run from Gordon D’Arcy earned his side a penalty and O’Gara struck the three points.
Australia stretched their lead back to eight in the 33rd minute when Mortlock sent through his second penalty following an Irish indiscretion.
Ireland had the opportunity for a quick reply when they were awarded a penalty 10 metres inside the Australian half but O’Gara’s kick did not have the distance.
Another penalty not long after gave the Irish another chance but they elected to go for the try and kicked for touch. The decision did not pay off, with an accidental offside costing the visitors and leaving them trailing 11-3 at the interval.
Ireland began the second half in electrifying fashion, scoring a stunning try just two minutes after the interval.
A clever chip kick by O’Gara was collected by Shane Horgan, who then offloaded to David Wallace before the ball went back to O’Gara – who ensured the visitors would register their first try.
They continued their dominance of the early second-half exchanges with their second try in the 50th minute giving them the lead.
Australia turned the ball over 10 metres into their own half, an error that resulted in flanker Best crossing the line. O’Gara nailed the conversion to put the visitors ahead 15-11.
Three minutes later, Gerrard responded for the home side with an impressive show of pace enabling him to slip through a gap and register five points. Mortlock’s conversion restored a three-point margin for Australia.
Australia continued to hold the momentum and it was the unlikely figure of prop Holmes that scored their third try of the contest.
A solid tackle from Lote Tuqiri saw the ball spill from Irish hands before Holmes picked it up and sprinted 50 metres to score. Again Mortlock converted.
The lead was stretched further 10 minutes later with Australian captain Gregan, in his world record 121st Test, scrambling across the line following a scrum.
Ireland could not stem the flow of points and Australia claimed another try in the 76th minute.
Full-back Shepherd breached the Irish line and sprinted 20 metres to score his first Test try with Mortlock putting through the conversion.