Sunday, November 15, 2009

Test Rugby: Australia take on Ireland

Australia v Ireland in Dublin

Venue: Croke Park

Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)

Test rugby matches between Australia and Ireland have a sentimental and endearing aspect. Many Irish families migrated to Australia during the 19th and 20th centuries with many Irish names appearing on the Australia's team list. There have been close World Cup encounters between these two rugby nations and many test matches where the Irish saved some of their best efforts just for Australia.

The last time Ireland defeated Australia was back in 2006, in Dublin, and it was a convincing win. Since then the Irish have gone on, earlier this year, to achieve their first Grand Slam in over fifty years, defeating all home rugby nations. A second string Irish side won comfortably against Canada and the USA in June, whilst Ireland 'A' backed this up in June with a win over the England Saxons to take the Churchill Cup. The depth in Irish rugby is the best it has ever been.

Into the Irish team come three new players who will blend in with the old. Ireland still has its veterans; O'Driscoll, about to play his 100th test match having played 7 tests also for the Lions), O'Gara, closing in on the 1,00th test point milestone, and 36 year old Horan in the front row, back playing rugby after a 5 week ban for stomping. This is an excellent Irish team who will play with passion against one of their more friendlier foe, the Aussies. They may have the home crowd going crazy for them at the hallowed Croke Park but Ireland has not played as a team since March.

Australia is on a mission. The mission is to achieve its own Grand Slam, a victory against each of the home unions. Today's match will be a sterner test that that from England last weekend. They way in which their forward pack dominated must be causing some concern to the Irish. In Ireland they surely face the toughest test of all home nations.

Last Five Encounters
14.06.2008 Australia 18-12 in Melbourne
19.11.2006 Ireland 21-6 in Dublin.
24.06.2006 Australia 37-15 in Perth
19.11.2005 Australia 30-14 in Dublin
07.06.2003 Australia 45-16 in Brisbane

GWC Rugby Rankings: World Table-Australia 3rd, Ireland 5th

Prediction: Australia, just, by 2 points



15 Robert Kearney (Leinster) Age 24, 16 tests
14 Thomas Bowe (Neath Swansea Ospreys, Wales) 25, 23
13 Brian O'Driscoll, Capt. (Leinster) 30, 92
12 Patrick Wallace (Ulster) 30, 16
11 Luke Fitzgerald (Leinster) 22, 12
10 Ronan O'Gara (Munster) 32, 92
9 Thomas O'Leary (Munster) 26, 8
8 James Heaslip (Leinster) 25, 18
7 David Wallace (Munster) 33, 55
6 Stephen Ferris (Ulster) 24, 13
5 Paul O'Connell (Munster) 30, 62
4 Donncha O'Callaghan (Munster) 30, 55
3 John Hayes (Munster) 36, 94
2 Jeremy Flannery (Munster) 31, 31
1 Cian Healy (Leinster) 22, New cap
16 Sean Cronin (Connacht) 23, New cap
17 Thomas Court (Ulster) 29, 4
18 Leo Cullen (Leinster) 31, 19
19 Denis Leamy (Munster) 28, 42
20 Eoin Reddan (Leinster) 29, 16
21 Jonathan Sexton (Leinster) 24, New cap
22 Keith Earls (Munster) 22, 2
Head Coach: Declan Kidney


15 Adam Ashley-Cooper (ACT Brumbies)
14 Peter Hynes (Queensland Reds)
13 Digby Ioane (Queensland Reds)
12 Quade Cooper (Queensland Reds)
11 Drew Mitchell (NSW Waratahs)
10 Matthew Giteau (ACT Brumbies)
9 Wil Genia (Queensland Reds)
8 Wycliff Palu (NSW Waratahs)
7 David Pocock (WA Western Force)
6 Rocky Elsom, Capt. (ACT Brumbies)
5 Mark Chisholm (ACT Brumbies)
4 James Horwill (Queensland Reds)
3 Benjamin Alexander (ACT Brumbies)
2 Steven Moore (ACT Brumbies)
1 Benn Robinson (NSW Waratahs)
16 Tatafu Polota-Nau (NSW Waratahs)
17 Matthew Dunning (WA Western Force)
18 Dean Mumm (NSW Waratahs)
19 George Smith (ACT Brumbies)
20 Luke Burgess (NSW Waratahs)
21 Ryan Cross (WA Western Force)
22 James O'Connor (WA Western Force)
Head Coach: Robbie Deans

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