The Wallabies will be hell-bent on keeping their undefeated streak on tour going after surviving a comeback by Les Bleus in Paris.
Ireland will want to recover from their brutal and breathtaking game against the All Blacks and finish their November series with a win against the third-ranked team in the world.
Last week at home, the Irish could not duplicate their heroic Chicago win against the All Blacks, even though though the game was played two-thirds in the All Black half, and Ireland enjoyed 70% of the possession. They weren’t as potent in the first half as they were in America, and could not score a try in 80 minutes.
Granted, they lost three key players in the first quarter but so well did Ringrose and van der Flier play subbing for Henshaw and Stander, that it didn’t signify as much as it might have. And anyhow, that injury disadvantage was offset by the benefit of playing against 14 men for a quarter of the game.
Ireland couldn’t find space nor consummate chances; yet when the Kiwis got three opportunities they couldn’t stop them scoring three brilliant tries.
That said, Ireland did better in their matches against NZ than The Rugby Championship teams did. And not to any point, but they revealed, to Aussies at least, a future star in 24-year-old tighthead prop Tadhg Furlong.
Tadhg Furlong – an eye-opener for Aussies
Last Saturday the Wallabies did well to beat France with a scratch team that had only five starting players from Murrayfield repeating, and another five running on in a test match for the first time. More relevant was their performance the week before when they struggled with the rush of the Scots and surrendered chances like millionaires.
Mind you, whoever represented the Wallabies in the last two weeks defended well when it mattered.
Rory Best – will lead his team out in his 100th test match
Ireland are forced to make changes because of injuries to outhalf Johnny Sexton and inside centre Robbie Henshaw. They are replaced by Paddy Jackson and 21 year-old Garry Ringrose who subbed for them so ably when they were injured last week.
Winger Simon Zebo is still hurting but is named on the bench, with Keith Earls returning to the starting team after his own injury; but fullback Rob Kearney is deemed ready to play the whole game. CJ Stander is also pronounced fit to play but coach Joe Schmidt has omitted lock Donnacha Ryan because of the work load he has had; Iain Henderson will start instead.
The admirable Ireland skipper, Rory Best, will lead his team out in his 100th test match.
Australia played a scratch team last week in Paris but, compared to the earlier Scotland game, the Wallabies have replaced two forwards. Rob Simmons subs for the injured Adam Coleman at lock and Dean Mumm starts the game to counter the lineout ability of Ireland. However he will play on the blindside flank with David Pocock at no. 8 and Lopeti Timani relegated to the bench.
Dean Mumm – replaces Lopeti Timani in backrow
If Ireland hog the ball and play in enemy territory as they did last Saturday it should be good enough to beat the Wallabies who should not prosper as well as the All Blacks did with their poor rations. Ireland didn’t kick the ball out too often against NZ because Retallick and Whitehouse were back for lineout duty; so they took the ball up more and kicked the ball infield.
Since that provided such good stats for them, it should work against the Aussies also.
Australia will get some different moves from Bernie Larkham for this match, but the main thing they need is to return to the rampant forward play they used against Wales, then try to impose a high-tempo game with good continuity. They should aim to stop the offloading skills of the Irish but not tackle as high as the Kiwis did to do so.
Conor Murray – best scrumhalf in the world
Key players and match-ups
Conor Murray v Will Genia
A contest to make the mouth water and create drool. Since Aaron Smith’s best form went down the toilet recently, Murray has been the form scrumhalf in the world. He’s also a big match player and reads the game like a comic book on attack and defence.
He’s huge for a scrummie and his tackle on Julian Savea with five minutes to go in Chicago nearly sent “The Bus” into the stands. He’s also the ringmaster of the Joe Schmidt playbook and is without doubt the most valuable player in the team.
The lighter Genia was close to being at that level in his heyday. and after being recalled by the Wallabies this year is getting near his best. Like Murray he is dangerous on the snipe and is multi-talented.
Jamies Heaslip – playing like a young pup
Backrow v Backrow
This is another area of interest; but you can’t compare like for like, because the balance of the two backrows is entirely different. 7. Sean O’Brien and Michael Hooper are as chalk and cheese. SOB is the better runner in traffic but Hooper shines in the loose on attack and defence.
CJ Stander is a brute of a blindside flanker who you would like to see next to you in the trenches in any war you happen to be in, whereas Dean Mumm is a handy lineout man and serial pest.
At no. 8 James Heaslip, the skillful 32 year-old and 80 minute man, is playing like a young pup for Ireland, whereas David Pocock, one of the great Wallabies of our time, will be noticed more for his strength and skill over the ball.
The better-balanced Ireland backrow should have the advantage over the makeshift Aussie unit.
The Aussies are starting only six players who began the test match in Paris last week. They should be fresher than the Irish who may be carrying some bumps and bruises from their hell against the All Blacks, yet are fronting up anyway.
But playing at home against the visitors who have left too many tries orphaned on the park from sloppy execution……
Ireland by 5
Team lists & details
1. Jack McGrath
2. Rory Best (c)
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. Iain Henderson
5. Devin Toner
6. CJ Stander
7. Sean O’Brien
8. Jamie Heaslip
9. Conor Murray
10. Paddy Jackson
11. Keith Earls
12. Garry Ringrose
13. Jared Payne
14. Andrew Trimble
15. Rob Kearney
16. Sean Cronin
17. Cian Healey
18. Finlay Bealham
19. Ultan Dillain
20. Josh van der Flier
21. Kieran Marmion
22. Joey Carbery
23. Simon Zebo
1. Scott Sio
2. Stephen Moore (c)
3. Sekope Kepu
4. Rory Arnold
5. Rob Simmons
6. Dean Mumm
7. Michael Hooper
8. David Pocock
9. Will Genia
10. Bernard Foley
11. Henry Speight
12. Reece Hodge
13. Tevita Kuridrani
14. Dane Haylett-Petty
15. Israel Folau
Reserves (one to be omitted):
16. Tolu Latu
17. James Slipper
18. Allan Ala’alatoa
19. Kane Douglas
20. Lopeti Timani
21. Sean McMahon
22. Nick Phipps
23. Quade Cooper
24. Sefanaia Naivalu
Date: Saturday, November 26th
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Kick-off: 17:30 GMT, 04:30 AEDT (Sun)
Referee: Jérôme Garcès (France)
Assistant referees: JP Doyle (England), Craig Maxwell-Keyes (England)
TMO: Eric Gauzins (France)[/one_third]