Jonathan Sexton is set to regain the Ireland number 10 jersey after booting 23 points in the 31-28 defeat to New Zealand Maori.
The Leinster fly-half slotted seven penalties and a conversion of Paddy Wallace’s try in an accomplished performance.
Sexton was off target with a crucial late penalty in Rotorua but his overall display looks like earning him a spot in the Irish side to face Australia.
The Magners League Grand Finalist is expected to be named ahead of Munster’s Ronan O’Gara for Ireland’s final tour match against the Wallabies in Brisbane on Saturday.
Ireland go into that clash on the back of four successive defeats after the Maori followed in the footsteps of Scotland, the Barbarians and New Zealand in beating the 2009 Grand Slam Champions.
But while head coach Declan Kidney was obviously disappointed to have missed out on victory after picking what was a very inexperienced team, the Ireland boss insisted there were signs of improvement from last week’s hammering by the All Blacks.
"After the first 15 minutes we worked our way back into it and we weren't going too bad," said Kidney, after his side got off to the worst possible start as Hosea Gear and Dwayne Sweeney crashed over.
"We were up by a few points but we just couldn't close out the game. Maybe that shows a bit of our inexperience, I don't know.
"We made lots of changes and showed some belief in the fellas coming through. We'll learn lots from this tour, but for now it's just disappointing.
"Last week was extraordinary, a tonking really. So all the different little areas we improved upon we have to make sure we improve upon again next week."
Kidney’s men certainly got better as the first-half wore on and ill-discipline by the hosts allowed Sexton to fire the tourists level 18-18 at the interval.
Wallace then stormed through in the first minute of the second period but a Luke McAlister penalty and Karl Lowe’s try in the left corner put the Maoris back ahead.
Sexton levelled the scores at 28-28 before Willie Ripia landed the winner with nine minutes left on the clock after Niall Ronan was penalised in front of the posts.
Ireland hit back instantly but Sexton couldn’t capitalise as he missed his first but crucial kick of the night.