Let me start with an apology. The guys at GaGR have been so excited about RWC that we forgot to write about RWC. We have had endless hours of top class rugby to watch and that’s what we’ve been doing instead of writing a preview for Australia and Ireland’s most important pool game. On to the game.
What do we know about Ireland? If you listen to the media they are old, out of form, never beaten us at RWC and ranked way below us on the “official” IRB rankings. all these things should point to a Wallaby win. And all of this means sweet F.A. We’ve all seen players throw out their walking frames for one last chance at glory. Form, any form, is temporary and history and IRB rankings mean diddly squat at a world cup. All of which leaves me in a bit of a pickle when I have to hastily chuck together a last minute preview!
Ireland have great players in key positions. Brian O’Driscoll at 13. Sean O’Brien at open side flanker. Paul O’Connell in the second row. Add Kearney, Sexton, D’Arcy, Bowe and Heaslip to them and they’re starting to look pretty good. Put them in conditions that suit northern rugby, like the prediction for today, and alarm bells start to ring.
Then there’s the disruptions to our team. Digby Ioane breaks his thumb. David Pocock, possibly the best open side running around today, won’t be running around today! He’s hurt his back the morning of the captains run and is a last minute withdrawal. Ben McCalman has replaced him in the run on side. While McCalman is a fine player he is not an open side flanker. And the only good thing to come from Pococks injury is Wycliff Palu’s inclusion on the bench. It will be good to see the big number 8 run around again. And at least one of the Irish backs won’t be pleased to see his name there. But unfortunately our backrow now looks as unbalanced as the Irish one does. Things just aren’t looking as rosy as they were looking a few days ago.
So we think Australia should win. The rankings say Australia should win. Form says Australia should win. History says Australia should win. But something is just niggling away at me. This game could be a slippery slope for us. And I will be on the edge of my seat tonight hoping and praying we come through with the win!
One thing I have notice about the Irish side is their penchant for acronyms instead of names. ROG, BOD, POC, SOB even we do it with JOC. I wonder if they use it among themselves or journalist get sick of writing their names? It does leave a few punters unfamiliar with the teams trying to guess what people are talking about on Internet forums.
These teams look evenly matched. Both have good forward packs, great back rows and incredible backs. I have to back Australia but I think it will be a lot closer than many punters think.
1. Sekope Kepu, 2. Stephen Moore, 3. Ben Alexander, 4. Dan Vickerman, 5. James Horwill (capt), 6. Rocky Elsom, 7. Ben McCalman, 8. Radike Samo, 9. Will Genia, 10. Quade Cooper, 11. Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12. Pat McCabe, 13. Anthony Faingaa, 14. James O’Connor, 15. Kurtley Beale.
Reserves: 16. Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17. James Slipper, 18. Rob Simmons, 19. Wycliff Palu, 20. Scott Higginbotham, 21. Luke Burgess, 22. Drew Mitchell.
1. Cian Healy, 2. Rory Best, 3. Mike Ross, 4. Donncha O’Callaghan, 5. Paul O’Connell, 6. Stephen Ferris, 7. Sean O’Brien, 8. Jamie Heaslip, 9. Eion Reddan, 10. Jonathan Sexton, 11. Keith Earls, 12. Gordon D’Arcy, 13. Brian O’Driscoll (capt), 14. Tommy Bowe, 15. Rob Kearney.
Reserves: 16. Sean Cronin, 17. Tom Court, 18. Donnacha Ryan, 19. Denis Leamy, 20. Conor Murray, 21. Ronan O’Gara, 22. Andrew Trimble.
Referee: Bryce Lawrence
Assistant Referees: David Pearson, Stuart Terheege
Video Referee: Graham Hughes
Eden Park, Auckland
Late news: For Australia word is coming through that Moore is ill. Tatafu Polota-Nau replacing him and Saia Faingaa comes onto the bench.,
- RWC Opposition Analysis: Ireland (greenandgoldrugby.com)