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November 17, 2009

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O'Driscoll earns a tie for Ireland

BRIAN O'Driscoll touched down in the last minute yesterday to earn Ireland a 20-20 draw with Australia and end the Wallabies' hopes of a first grand slam since 1984.

Australia was leading 20-13 and Ireland winger Tommy Bowe had just had a second try ruled out when O'Driscoll made up for the error that gave Australia its opening score, darting over unchallenged under the posts.

Ronan O'Gara converted to tie the scores and end the match level with Australia's Matt Giteau on 10 points.

"It's a game we cruised and probably should have won," Australia coach Robbie Deans said.

"That Ireland was still within seven points was the crucial element. We had the opportunity to get beyond that. You leave the door ajar, then they've got the personnel to come back and save their skins."

With Australia having beaten England 18-9 last weekend, victory over Ireland would have left just Scotland and Wales standing between the tourists and a grand slam of wins over the so-called Home Nations teams.

"As much as we didn't want to talk about it, it's a very big occasion," said Wallabies captain Rocky Elsom, who seemed to have scored the winning try when he touched down in the corner midway through the second half. "They don't come round very often and it's disappointing that we didn't notch up the win there."

O'Driscoll's most notable contribution on his 100th international appearance until scoring had been the third-minute handling error that led to the first of Australia's two tries. He fumbled a pass by O'Gara to give Drew Mitchell a simple chance to run in unchallenged and touch down for his 18th international try. Giteau landed a simple conversion but O'Gara reduced the deficit with two penalties before Giteau made it 10-6 at halftime.


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