Rugby World Cup live scores: Ireland vs Italy
Brian O’Driscoll says the fact Ireland have won their last 15 Tests against Italy will count for little when the teams clash for a place in the World Cup quarter-finals. Join us from 6.30pm AEDT for live score updates of all the action from pool match of the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
Victory for either of the European rivals at Dunedin’s Otago Stadium on Sunday will all but guarantee a last eight place — something neither side managed in France four years ago.
Ireland though have already caused the upset of the tournament so far with a 15-6 Pool C win over Australia.
But they only preserved their winning streak against Italy with a nailbiting 13-11 win in Rome during the Six Nations in February secured only by a last-ditch drop-goal from fly-half Ronan O’Gara.
“They’ve become harder and harder to play in each match over the last four or five years,” Ireland captain O’Driscoll said after coach Declan Kidney’s team announcement on Friday.
“Some of the scorelines have been getting closer and closer and we really had to pull it of the bag to beat them in Rome in February,” the centre added.
“It’s win or bust. We felt as though we had the ability to beat Australia, but winning that game hasn’t made this group any different.
Kidney sprung a surprise in his team selection by selecting 22-year-old scrum-half Conor Murray in his 1st XV ahead of the more experienced Eoin Reddan and Isaac Boss.
The other change to the team that started against Australia saw O’Gara preferred to Jonathan Sexton at outside-half.
Against the Wallabies, O’Gara had to come off the bench, playing alongside his rival as a centre, in order to seal the win after Sexton missed three out of five goalkicks.
O’Gara, on for centre Gordon D’Arcy, secured the win with two crucial penalties with Murray playing the final quarter against Australia after replacing Reddan.
Although untested as an international half-back pair, Murray and O’Gara both play for Irish provincial side Munster.
Italy made just one change to the team that secured a 27-10 bonus point win over the United States on Tuesday that kept their knockout phase hopes alive with fit-again full-back Andrea Masi returning in place of Luke McLean.
After the Eagles match, where the Azzurri scrum forced a penalty try, Italy coach Nick Mallett proclaimed his side had a superior front row to that of Ireland and the former South Africa boss backed up those words on Friday.
“We certainly believe we have a very strong front row, I don’t regret what I said,” Mallett told reporters.
Will the Wallabies be consigned to second position, or can the Azzurri spring an upset? Join us this evening from 6.30pm AEDT for live scores and a blog of all the action, and post your comments below.© AAP 2013
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