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How the Ulstermen fared for Ireland: Our warriors played key roles

By Michael Sadlier

At times it was almost 'hide behind the couch stuff' as the tide of green and gold seemed ready to swamp Ireland's desperate rearguard at any moment and even the clock didn't seem to offer Joe Schmidt's men much hope of holding on.

But they did keep them out - at one point only 13 Irishmen were standing upright - to make it three from three in the Autumn series with the way they beat the Wallabies in the face of their rather scrambling but flawed performance even surpassing the monumental effort which was put in to upset the Springboks.

And Ulster's contingent, which was made up of only two players - with Rory Best fit again to take his place alongside Tommy Bowe, though it would surely have been three had Jared Payne been fit to win his second cap - played their part in this tub-thumping game.

Bowe scored his second try in as many games to take his Test total to 28 touchdowns - one behind Denis Hickie but still quite a way off a certain Brian O'Driscoll who finished up with 46 - and, this time, it was all about his already well known predatory instincts kicking in for another 'Tommy' special.

It came when the Wallabies were looking hugely threatening just before the end of the first quarter and scrum-half Nick Phipps opted to throw a long pass with the visitors clearly reckoning that a try was on. Bowe made a decision to go for the intercept and it landed in the bread basket and he was off to run most of the length of the pitch to dot it down.

Yes, he was clearly tiring before making the Aussie line but the important thing was that he had not only saved what looked like a sure-fire try but had then turned it into a score for Ireland which with Jonathan Sexton's conversion made it 17-0 to Ireland after only a quarter of an hour.

Other than that, Bowe was used as a kick-chaser or found himself having to knock green and gold jerseys into the turf. He did it well but what a way to end the series - two tries and two wins from his first games for Ireland since last November.

And what of Rory Best? The Ulster skipper had missed the South Africa game due to his injured calf and was clearly eager to make up for lost time with his steal of Australian possession assisting in Ireland's opening try from Simon Zebo which came directly off Sexton's chip shortly after Best had done his useful work.

Best was a pest at the breakdown but matters at the lineouts were not quite so neat and tidy with crooked throws and lost balls on several occasions.

That aspect of the game did not go so well and with Best perhaps feeling the effects of a high-octane game, the coach took him off with about 13 minutes to go which was fair enough after the 78-times capped player had given everything he possibly could.

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