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Ireland need to defeat Australia or series will go down as a failure: Devin Toner

By Nick Purewal

Published 21/11/2016

Warning: Devin Toner wants Ireland to finish on a high note
Warning: Devin Toner wants Ireland to finish on a high note

Devin Toner has challenged Ireland to see off Australia on Saturday in order to consider the autumn Test series a success.

Ireland have claimed their maiden Test victory over New Zealand this November, but Toner insists Joe Schmidt's men must now finish on a high.

The All Blacks exacted revenge for their 40-29 defeat in Chicago with a grinding 21-9 victory in Dublin on Saturday night.

Ireland bossed territory and possession and forced New Zealand into disciplinary lapses, but could not break their defence.

"I think we do need to beat Australia to be able to call this run of Tests a success," said Ireland lock Toner. "Australia have had a gruelling tour with a number of big games, and they'll be looking to finish on a high now.

"We want to do that as well, so to do that we know we'll have to prepare very well, pull our socks up and get stuck into things straight away on Monday."

Ireland have moved up to fourth in the world rankings courtesy of their Chicago victory over the All Blacks - but also South Africa's surprise 20-18 loss to Italy in Rome.

Toner believes Ireland must take heart from toppling the back-to-back World champions in America, and then running them close in Dublin just two weeks later.

"It's hugely positive for the squad for that win and then another performance against the All Blacks, and one of the big things for our confidence is the lads coming off the bench," said Toner. "Josh van der Flier was excellent, he had a big presence and slotted in really well.

"Garry Ringrose did a good job when he came on too, slotting in after Robbie Henshaw's injury.

"It's growing the kind of depth the coaches want and have challenged us to be able to offer."

The Wallabies might have conceded 108 points in three straight defeats to New Zealand this year, but they still beat Wales 32-8 in Cardiff and France 25-23 in Paris this month.

Frustrated by Ireland's sluggish start against New Zealand on Saturday that led to a third-minute try for Malakai Fekitoa, Toner insisted Schmidt's side can ill afford another similar opening against the Wallabies.

"It's not ideal to concede so early but I don't think we did too badly in pulling ourselves back in," said Toner. "We've got to step it up again, it's another big challenge and we have to move on because we know Australia will be an extremely tough match."

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