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Australia vs Ireland
International, 23 June, 2018
|Fulltime - Australia 16, Ireland 20|
|Referee: Pascal Gauzère|
|Touch judges: Paul Williams & Marius van der Westhuizen|
|TMO: Ben Skeen|
Ireland have won the Lansdowne Cup with a heartstopping 20-16 win over Australia in the series-deciding third rugby Test in Sydney.
» LORD: Even on points, but Ireland win the cup
» Seven talking points from the third Test
» Wallabies player ratings from the third Test
» Match report: Irish win Test, series
» WATCH video highlights from the third Test
Finals football! It’s 1-1, and all on the line when the Wallabies host the Irish in a blockbuster game three at Allianz Stadium in Sydney, tonight. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog, starting from AEST.
It has been the two vastly conflicting performances from both sides through the first two matches that makes this game even harder to predict.
In game one, the Wallabies were phenomenal at the breakdown, led by David Pocock and Michael Hooper, and this allowed for Israel Folau and Will Genia to lead the backs around with aplomb.
In a match that provided much positivity for Wallabies fans everywhere, the Irish looked powerless, and eventually went down – giving the home side a 1-0 lead.
Game two saw a much-improved performance from the visitors. Connor Murray and Jonny Sexton were enormous, and skipper Peter O’Mahony was monumental in the forwards.
Australia’s ill-discipline killed them on the night, and the Irish squared the series at 1-1.
Off the bat, this match-up will be a belter.
Much was made last week of the Irish’s superior ability to control the pace of the game, and their general kicking has been streets ahead of Cheika’s men through this series as a whole.
Indeed, Connor Murray is one of the best kicking halves in the world, and his deliberate ploy to avoid Israel Folau in open play last week reaped rewards. Expect much of the same tonight.
The battle of the breakdown will no doubt be every bit as ferocious as it has been through the first two games. The Irish accuracy at the ruck last week forced the Wallabies to panic, and make mistakes when they did have ball in hand. Where they found easy routes over the game line in Brisbane, there were green jumpers with vigorous line speed in Melbourne.
Was this a case of a poor night for the Wallabies? Or an Irish outfit that had shaken off the travel, and settled into solid patterns.
With all that in mind, what happens tonight?
Caleb Timu is dumped from the matchday 23 for the Wallabies, with Lukhan Tui starting at 6. Ned Hanigan resumes his spot on the bench. Nick Phipps starts for the injured Will Genia, with Joe Powell slotting in on the pine in his place.
For the Irish, Sean Cronin starts at hooker, with Joe Schmidt continuing his ploy of chopping and changing his tight five through the series. Jack McGrath starts at loosehead prop.
In the backs, Garry Ringrose has been dropped from 13, allowing Bundee Aki back into inside centre. Keith Stockdale also returns to the starting XV.
Where the game will be won
Who wants it more?
Ireland would view a 2-1 series win over a big name Southern Hemisphere rival as a major, major scalp. Yes, they’ve had a remarkable last year and a half, but they haven’t proven themselves against Southern Hemisphere opposition in that time. Peter O’Mahony and his men will know the significance of a win this evening.
For Hooper and co, it’s about going back to the Wallabies of game one. Will Genia is a big loss, but if they can play with the defensive intensity that they displayed in the first 80 minutes of this series, they’ll be tough to beat.
Ireland are short with the bookies, and I think that’s a tip of the hat to both their improved performance last week, and the loss of Will Genia at halfback. I think it will be extremely close, with a kick either way to win it.
Ireland by 3
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