Ireland’s 12-match winning streak came to an abrupt end with a 9-18 defeat to Australia at the Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.
The result stretches Australia’s winning streak over Ireland to 11 matches.
The encounter was physical, brutal at times and impossible to determine who is going to emerge as victors in the end.
However, it wasn’t until Wallabies talisman David Pocock, who was playing his first Test in 18 months, crashed over from two metres out in the 72nd minute to give Australia a decisive, nine-point cushion.
It capped a typically influential performance for the flank, who performed charity and educational work during his time out and played himself to a standstill during a tight match against the Six Nations champions.
Playing on the blindside, Pocock was at his ball-poaching best as he continually frustrated the Irish ruck ball.
Ireland had their chances and will consider themselves unlucky to lose, with Christiaan Stander held up over the line early in the second half and replacement scrumhalf Kieran Marmion denied by the television match official in the final minute.
But the Wallabies deserved the victory and will go into the second Test in Melbourne full of confidence after a successful start to their international season.
The Wallabies built the win on the back of a superb defensive effort, restricting the visitors to three penalty goals.
n a brutal start to the match, the Wallabies hammered Ireland with some massive tackles.
Lock Adam Coleman was prominent in defence early, poleaxing a number of Irish players, while centres Samu Kerevi and Kurtley Beale both put jarring hits on their opposite numbers.
Bernard Foley and Joey Carbery traded early penalties before the Irish began to assert some dominance with better possession and territory.
They were rewarded with a second Carbery three-pointer when Wallabies captain Michael Hooper was penalised at the breakdown.
The Wallabies spun the ball wide at every opportunity to try to beat the Irish rush defence and were almost rewarded when giant wing Marika Koroibete was given space and set sail for the corner – only for Jacob Stockdale to appear from nowhere and put him into touch with a superb covering tackle.
Ireland looked set to take the narrow 6-3 lead into the break until Foley found winger Dane Haylett-Petty in space with another long pass.
Haylett-Petty straightened the attack and fed Kerevi, who was pulled down metres from the line.
But from quick ruck ball, Will Genia popped a pass to Foley, who dived over in the corner to give the home side an 8-6 lead at half-time.
Ireland started the second half brightly and were unlucky not to score when Stander was held up over the line after a 40-metre break.
But the visitors hit the front soon after when Carbery kicked his third penalty following a ruck infringement from Pocock.
Australia refused to give in and gradually worked their way back into the game.
Israel Folau thought he had scored midway through the half, only for the referee to reverse the decision when Coleman was found to have tackled a man without the ball.
But the home side had the ascendancy and went ahead with a second Foley penalty before Pocock’s late heroics as Australia swarmed following a tap penalty.
Moment of the Match: The highlight of the game was certainly when Israel Folau perfectly collected a high ball in the 71st minute.
Villian of the match: Marius van der Westhuizen’s referee calls at crucial moments, especially in the second half – really placed a dark cloud over the match.
Man of the match: For Ireland Christiaan Stander stood out as he racked up crucial tackles. Will Genia was a vital component for Australia’s win. But for his relentless work rate at the breakdown and the much-needed try at the closing stage, our man of the match award goes to David Pocock.
Tries: Foley, Pocock
Pens: Foley 2
Pens: Carberry 3
Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Marika Koroibete, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Dane Haylett-Petty, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Will Genia, 8 Caleb Timu, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 David Pocock, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Tolu Latu, 17 Allan Alaalatoa, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Lukhan Tui, 21 Pete Samu, 22 Nick Phipps, 23 Reece Hodge.
Ireland: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Keith Earls, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Joey Carbery, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Christiaan Stander, 7 Jordi Murphy, 6 Peter O’Mahony (captain), 5 Iain Henderson, 4 James Ryan, 3 John Ryan, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Jack McGrath.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Tadhg Furlong, 19 Quinn Roux, 20 Jack Conan, 21 Kieran Marmion, 22 Johnny Sexton, 23 Jordan Larmour.
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Pascal Gaüzère (France), Paul Williams (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)