Ireland’s injury-ravaged side showed character and resilience to beat Australia 27-24 at the Aviva Stadium, captain Rory Best said.
Best won his 100th cap in a fiercely contested Dublin encounter as Ireland overcame the loss of a number of key players to emerge victorious.
“It’s a win we are very, very proud of,” said the Ireland captain.
“The manner in which we won against a very good Australian team – it shows the character we have in our squad.”
Ireland led 17-0, but then lost Rob Kearney, Andrew Trimble and Jared Payne to injury before being pegged back and eventually overtaken by the resurgent Wallabies.
Joe Schmidt’s side – already without Johnny Sexton, Robbie Henshaw and Sean O’Brien – were not derailed by their lengthening injury list.
Instead, they became the first European team since 2003 to beat all three leading southern hemisphere teams in one calendar year.
“To have a number of changes to the team and then having to make positional changes during the game makes it a win we are very, very happy with,” Best said.
“You have to give credit to the Aussies, especially at the start of the second half. There just seemed to be wave after wave of gold and it took a lot of character to dig in.
“It’s amazing. We get unbelievable support here and the Irish rugby fans are very, very special to me.”
The Ulster hooker led his country out for the 11th time at the Aviva Stadium, receiving a standing ovation both then and again when he was replaced by Sean Cronin minutes before the final whistle.
He joins Brian O’Driscoll, Ronan O’Gara, Paul O’Connell and John Hayes in reaching the 100-cap milestone for Ireland.
“It’s been a very emotionally touching time for me for me,” he said. “To walk out there with my two eldest kids, to be able to savour that moment and look around, the ovation that I got, it’s a very special moment for me, for my family and for Banbridge Rugby Club.”
The Ireland captain is pleased with the progress his team has made in a year which began with an indifferent Six Nations campaign, but followed up with a first Test win in South Africa – although the series was lost 2-1 – and three victories from four November matches, including a first over New Zealand.
“We are building – we are reasonably happy with where we are, but we will keep building,” said Best.
“England are setting a phenomenal pace at the minute and it’s up to the rest of the Six Nations to catch up with them.
“We have a lot of young guys who have showed lots of guts and determination. There is a lot of fine tuning to do but that is for another day.
“There is lots of pride for me in the guys who came on. Kieran Marmion came on and played 40 minutes on the wing, while Joey Carbery slotted in very well at full-back.”
Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-union/38120508