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Opinion

All Blacks vs Ireland: Rugby World Cup quarter-final preview and prediction

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Roar Guru
18th October, 2019
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4341 Reads

The All Blacks will look to take another step towards a hat-trick of World Cup titles when they take on Ireland in Tokyo.

While the All Blacks are the definite favourites, the Irish have found ways to beat them recently and going into this tournament held the Kiwi’s coveted world No.1 ranking. This won’t be as straightforward as many might think.

The All Blacks’ ability to defend for long periods with confidence and then counter with devastating effect makes them so difficult to play against. But let’s not get carried away.

This 2019 side is not as impressive as the 2015 or 2011 vintages and teams like Australia, South Africa and Ireland have shown in the past year that they can be beaten.

To prevent that from happening Steve Hansen will look to his forwards to set a solid platform with the engine room of Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick playing crucial roles.

Retallick is still working his way back to full match fitness so Ireland might sense an opportunity.

Hansen is persisting with Richie Mo’unga at fly-half and Beauden Barrett at full-back. It’s worked well at times and while Barrett might be a better No.10, this setup can cause huge problems for opposition, especially if they don’t kick well.

The Irish will miss Bundee Aki with the centre banned for three games for a red card in his last game. The hard-running centre could have caused real issues for the fresh Kiwi centre partnership of Jack Goodhue and Anton Lienert-Brown but Jo Schmidt will just have to think of other plans.

The half-backs pairing of Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton is crucial to the Irish hopes. Sexton has not been in his best form recently but he’s still a very good player. Conor Murray ironically missed Ireland’s win over the All Blacks last November but he’s arguably still their most important player.

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Conor Murray

(Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

If he can kick well and move his team around then Ireland can stop the All Blacks playing the game they want to play and pin them back deep in their own half.

The game is hotting up nicely with Sexton throwing some spice on things yesterday when he said that it was the All Blacks overly aggressive play that had led to referees cracking down at this tournament.

Brave words when you consider he’ll have Aardie Savea, Sam Cane and Kieran Read running at him for 80 minutes.

Prediction
12 of the Irish starting 15 beat the All Blacks in late 2018, and this time they’ve got Connor Murray too.

The Irish might wish they were playing this World Cup a year or 18 months ago but there’s something in the air with this one and we could in store for an upset.

Ireland to win by 3.

Where: Tokyo Stadium, Tokyo
Date: Saturday October 19
Kick-off: 9:15pm AEDT
TV: Foxsports
Betting: All Blacks $1.18, Ireland $4.70

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All Blacks
15. Beauden Barrett
14. Sevu Reece
13. Jack Goodhue
12. Anton Lienert-Brown
11. George Bridge
10. Richie Mo’unga
9. Aaron Smith
8. Kieran Read (c)
7. Sam Cane
6. Ardie Savea
5. Sam Whitelock
4. Brodie Retallick
3. Nepo Laulala
2. Codie Taylor
1. Joe Moody

Replacements
16. Dane Coles
17. Ofa Tuungafasi
18. Angus Ta’avao
19. Scott Barrett
20. Matt Todd
21. TJ Perenara
22. Sonny Bill Williams
23. Jordie Barrett

Ireland
15. Rob Kearney
14. Keith Earls
13. Garry Ringrose
12. Robbie Henshaw
11. Jacob Stockdale
10. Johnny Sexton
9. Conor Murray
8. CJ Stander
7. Josh van der Flier
6. Peter O’Mahony
5. James Ryan
4. Iain Henderson
3. Tadhg Furlong
2. Rory Best (c)
1. Cian Healy

Replacements
16. Niall Scannell
17. Dave Kilcoyne
18. Andrew Porter
19. Tadhg Beirne
20. Rhys Ruddock
21. Luke McGrath
22. Joey Carbery
23. Jordan Larmour

Referee: Nigel Owens
Assistant referees: Pascal Gauzere, Angus Gardner
TMO: Graham Hughes

2019 World Cup Form
New Zealand -WWW
Ireland WWLW