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Ireland vs New Zealand
International Rugby 2016
|Soldier Field, Chicago|
Ireland have taken a historic victory, defeating the All Blacks in Chicago for the first time ever after 111 years of waiting.
New Zealand 29
The Chicago Cubs broke a 108 year World Series baseball drought this week beating the Cleveland Indians in Game 7 of a titanic sporting series. Can Ireland break a similarly long sporting drought and beat the All Blacks for the first time at Soldier Field? Join The Roar for live scores and coverage from 7am (AEDT).
The All Blacks have won 18 tests in a row and every outing in 2016 by an average of 40 points. However in terms of available cattle they are perhaps at their most vulnerable this week.
A wretched injury toll has forced Jerome Kaino to switch to lock and pair up with Blues teammate Patrick Tuipolutu. Kaino’s shift from No.6 means there is a just a second Test start for Liam Squire while a fit-again Sam Cane has replaced Matt Todd at No.7.
Aaron Smith makes a timely return at half-back, but the backline is reshuffled from the Australian test with George Moala and Waisake Naholo promoted to centre and right wing respectively.
Ireland are playing their first test since losing to South Africa in June. It was a match where Ireland enjoyed double the amount of possession than South Africa, but a failure to translate chances into points was vital. Ireland have shown they are capable of troubling the best, but have been poor in really big moments.
Joe Schmidt has named an experienced and settled line-up with veteran Rob Kearney returning to full-back. That selection means Jared Payne will start from outside centre in a backline that features familiar faces Jonny Sexton, Conor Murray, Simon Zebo and Andrew Trimble. The pack also boasts plenty of experience with captain Rory Best and No.8 Jamie Heaslip leading the charge.
Ireland will be competitive for an hour, but the depth of the All Black bench and the all-round quality across the park will result in a fairly comfortable win. Consider the last two tests, the All Blacks have scored 67 unanswered points in the last 20 minutes after being genuinely extended by Australia and South Africa.