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Australia vs Ireland
International, 9 June, 2018
|Fulltime - Australia 18, Ireland 9|
|Referee: Marius van der westhuizen|
|Touch judges: Pascal Gauzère & Paul Williams|
|TMO: Ben Skeen|
Australia have gotten their three-match series with world No.2 Ireland started in the best way possible, a nine-point win on Saturday night at Suncorp stadium.
It’s been a long time coming, but finally Test Rugby is back. It will be a fiery encounter when the three-test June series kicks off in Brisbane with the Wallabies looking to topple the ever-improving Irish. Join The Roar for live scroes and a blog from 8pm AEST.
Off the bat, this match-up should be an absolute cracker.
We’ll start with the visitors.
Ahead of game one this week, Michael Cheika went on record stating that “this is probably the best team in Ireland’s history.” I would wager that the Australian coach’s assertions are not all that far from the mark.
The reigning six nations champions are riding a wave of form barely seen in recent professional rugby times, and haven’t lost in their last 12 games dating back to 2016. In this block of wins, they’ve toppled the highly impressive England twice, as well as South Africa, Argentina and Wales.
With that being said, they have a point to prove against teams such as New Zealand, and tonight’s opponents, Australia, if they’re to lay claim to truly being one of the top sides in world rugby.
In team news, Jonny Sexton sits on the pine, with Joey Carbery to start. Rob Kearney takes his place at fullback, and slots in behind an extremely tight defensive centre pairing in Robbie Henshaw and bruising Bundee Aki.
In the forwards, all eyes will be on James Ryan, the lock forward who is yet to lose in Irish colours. One of the most damaging ball carriers in world rugby, his match up with hit man Adam Coleman should be a highlight of this fixture.
Cian Healy and the aforementioned Sexton are noticeable names in the reserves.
For Australia, it’s more about the unknown factor of a number of key players in determining the result of this one.
Brandon Paenga-Amosa and Caleb Timu will make their starting debuts from hooker and No.8 respectively. Adam Coleman and Izack Rodda have been in hot form in recent weeks in Super Rugby, and will need every ounce of that against arguably the best lock pairing in world rugby.
In the backs, the big news is the omission of Tevita Kuridrani at outside centre, in favour of Samu Kerevi. While his impact in attack is undeniable, question marks still remain around his defence, especially at test level.
I see the game hinging on his partnership with Kurtley Beale in midfield. Israel Folau is in the form of his career, and takes his place at fullback, with Marika Koroibete and Dane Haylett-Petty on the wings.
Where the game will be won
The unknown factor?
It is extremely difficult to tip this game. Given the untested nature of a number of players at the top level, there’s much to be said for who seizes the opportunities that present themselves best.
I think Australia is a better attacking side, but Ireland’s defensive effort will be suffocating. It should be intriguing to say the least.
Ireland will start favourites with the bookies, and that’s probably justified given their last twelve months.
With that being said, I really like the attacking mindset that Cheika has employed in his 9 thru 15 selections. Kerevi at 13 is a gamble, but it could well pay off.
Australia by 5
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