The tourists, coming off back-to-back international wins over Scotland and Ireland, looked like they were in a different class for much of a wind assisted first-half but still could only manage a five point lead at the interval because of a truly magnificent Munster defence.
An early penalty by out-half Mitchell Third followed quickly by a fine try from full-back Adrian Henley put them in a powerful position but after that the home defence tightened up considerably.
Out-half Tomás Quinlan reduced arrears with a penalty and the Wallabies’ cause was not helped when they twice crossed the Munster line only to lose possession on each occasion.
Munster were more than happy to turn over 8-3 in arrears against physically stronger opposition and to enjoy the bitterly cold wind at their backs.
Third and Quinlan exchanged penalties but the tourists looked to have finally taken control with a well taken try in the 57th minute by winger Harry Jones to move them 16-6 ahead.
Almost immediately, however, Munster struck for a try of their own touched down by Cormac Blake following a line-out and Quinlan’s fine conversion reduced the arrears to three points with 10 minutes still to play.
Almost immediately, they opted to seek a match-winning try through a line-out rather than accept an equalising three points from a very favourably positioned penalty.
However, Gearóid Lyons’s kick drifted into the touch in goal area and the relieved Wallabies duly played out the remaining minutes.
“I suppose we were a small bit naive with one or two calls but we are happy because we are all well proud of what the boys did tonight and they can be well proud of themselves because they gave a very good account of themselves against a very strong, physical Australian side,” said Munster coach Keith Murphy.
“I’m not disappointed at the decision not to kick for goal towards the end. I never question their decisions when they’re on the pitch. They tend to back themselves a lot and we’re very proud of that.
“There were some basic errors in the second half without which we could probably have had more momentum and they’re the things they will rue tomorrow.”
MUNSTER: S Fitzgerald (Árd Scoil Rís); G O’Shea (Shannon), S McMahon (Garryowen) capt, JJ O’Neill (Crescent), B Murphy (Highfield); T Quinlan (Cork Con), D O’Mahony (Rockwell); L O’Connor (CBC), J Boland (Dublin University), M O’Donnell (Crescent) ; F Bradshaw Ryan (Shannon), J Keane (Crescent); B Kilkenny (St Munchin’s), L O’Leary (UCC), M Murphy (Cork Con).
Replacements, all used: L O’Halloran (St Munchin’s), T Ademakin (Garryowen), J O’Halloran (Árd Scoil Rís), A Hogan (UCC), C Blake (Crescent), J Poland (PBC) , G Lyons (Shannon), P Kiernan (PBC).
AUSTRALIA SCHOOLS: A Henley, H Jones, A Kellaway, K Morgan, J Todd; M Third, M Short; F Sa’aga, A Mafi, M Gibbon; L Cannell, M Jones; D Morris, T Tai, W Vosayaco.
Replacements: E Guttenbeil, V Fifita, J Anderson, L Faka’osilea, J McCalman, A Deegan, T Milne, H Hutchinson.