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AUSTRALIA has clung on to win the one-off Virgin Australia International Rules Test in Perth, holding off a brave Ireland fightback to prevail by 10 points.
The Australians led by 33 points early in the third term but had to withstand a furious Ireland challenge before running out winners 0.17.5 (56) to 2.9.7 (46).
"We thought to ourselves if the game could be reasonably even at quarter-time, that would be a really good result for us," Clarkson said.
"Early in games in past series it's taken us some time to get used to the round ball.
"We thought it would be difficult early in the game but we got away to a flyer."
After looking out of sorts in the first half, the Irish sprung to life with the game's first under to Darren Hughes, followed by five quick overs to draw within 13 points.
But the Aussies deserved their win and steadied the ship in a topsy-turvy final term to reclaim the Cormac McAnallen Cup for the first time since 2011.
Goalkeeper Dustin Fletcher had some nervous moments late in the game, but pulled off a brilliant save in the final minute to snuff out a last-gasp Ireland charge.
"We were uncharacteristically wild with our kicking," Ireland's coach Paul Earley said.
"We didn't hit our targets up front.
"Outside of that first quarter we won the game."
The Australians thrilled the 38,262 spectators at Patersons Stadium in the first half, kicking the round ball with surprising precision to kick the first seven overs of the match to run up the huge lead.
Steve Johnson was at his clever and creative best, kicking four overs, while St Kilda skipper Nick Riewoldt looked a natural with the different shaped ball, kicking beautifully.
After being humiliated in the past two International Rules Series, the concept of playing an All Australian-only team paid off handsomely for the hosts, who gave Ireland absolutely no space with the ball.
"When we did get the ball coming out of defence I think they dropped players back very, very quickly and made it difficult for us to hit our targets in the full-forward line," Earley said.
Hawthorn's premiership captain Luke Hodge added the Jim Stynes Medal for the best Australian on the ground to his recent Norm Smith Medal with another virtuoso display.
His Hawks teammate Sam Mitchell was another steadying influence, while Essendon skipper Jobe Watson also shone.
While the clever kicking was a major feature, so was Australia's smothering defence, with Nick Smith's desperate second-quarter tackle to stop an almost certain goal a prime example.
Conversely, the Irish looked shell-shocked from the outset, spraying passes and unable to hit the scoreboard with some uncharacteristic poor skills.
But led by GAA medalist Conor McManus, they were a new outfit after the main break, and with increased pressure and quicker ball movement, were able to cut into the deficit.
The win was Australia's first on home soil since 2005.
Jim Stynes Medal voting
21 - L Hodge
19 - S Johnson
14 - S Mitchell
5 - J McVeigh
5 - C Wingard
3 - D Fletcher
2 - H Taylor
1 - N Riewoldt
Port's Robbie Gray bursts through a tackle during Australia's win against Ireland. Picture: AFL Media
AUSTRALIA 0.7.1 0.11.2 0.14.4 0.17.5 (56)
IRELAND 0.1.1 0.1.4 1.6.6 2.9.7 (46)
Ireland: Hughes, team score
Australia: Johnson 4, Riewoldt 3, Wingard 3, McVeigh 2, Harvey, Gray, Selwood, Jack, Breust
Ireland: McManus 4, Begley 2, Donnelly, McKernan, Murphy
Australia: Hodge, Mitchell, Johnson, Riewoldt, Watson, Fletcher
Ireland: McManus, Begley, Moran, Murphy, Donnelly
Jim Stynes Medal: Luke Hodge
GAA Medal: Conor McManus
Referees: Meredith (Australia), Duffy (Ireland)
Official crowd: 38,262 at Patersons Stadium