Saturday, June 9, 2012

TEST RUGBY: Ireland begin tour of New Zealand

Ireland v New Zealand in Auckland

Venue: Eden Park

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)

It’s rugby test time at Eden Park, Auckland. Eight months after Richie McCaw held the Webb Ellis Trophy aloft here, the All Blacks begin a new season. Can Ireland spoil the reunion?

Ireland begin a three-test rugby tour of New Zealand but sadly without any mid-week games. They have a blend of experience and some new faces. They do not have a good record against the All Blacks. In over a hundred years of rugby rivalry they have never defeated New Zealand. The closest they got was a 10-10 draw in 1973. Ireland will hope to replicate the form and passion that saw them push past Australia 15-6, here at Eden park, at the World Cup last year.

Ireland is with their great captain Brian O’Driscoll. Ireland with him in the side is a different team. He will be eager to end his career with a first ever win against New Zealand.

New Zealand breathed a sigh of relief after McCaw was selected for this first test. He is one of a pair of rugby test players (Dan Carter is the other) who without New Zealand is just not the same team.

There will be huge interest in this match around the world. New Zealand has a habit of starting their test programme on a rusty note. If Ireland can catch them off guard and reproduce the drive and passion as they did against Australia, they could cause an upset aka Scotland v Australia last Tuesday.

Last Five Encounters 20.11.2010 New Zealand 38-18 in Dublin
12.06.2010 New Zealand 66-29 in New Plymouth
15.11.2008 New Zealand 22-3 in Dublin
07.06.2008 New Zealand 21-11 in Wellington
17.06.2006 New Zealand 27-17 in Auckland

Ireland Last Five
04.03.2012 v France D 17-17 in Paris (6 Nations)
25.02.2012 v Italy W 42-10 in Dublin (6 Nations)
05.02.2012 v Wales L 21-23 in Dublin (6 Nations)
11.09.2011 v USA W 22-10 in New Plymouth
17.09.2011 v Australia W 15-6 in Auckland

New Zealand Last Five
23.10.2011 v France W 8-7 in Auckland (World Cup, Final)
16.10.2011 v Australia W 20-6 in Auckland (SF)
09.10.2011 v Argentina W 33-10 in Auckland (QF)
02.10.2011 v Canada W 79-15 in Wellington
24.09.2011 v France W 37-17 in Auckland

GWC Rugby Rankings World Table-New Zealand 1st, Ireland 8th

IRB Ranking Points New Zealand 91.43, Ireland 79.85

Prediction: At their best, NZ by 30, but tonight NZ by 15




15 Israel Dagg Hawkes Bay
14 Zac Guildford Hawkes Bay
13 Conrad Smith Wellington
12 Sonny Bill Williams Canterbury
11 Julian Savea * Wellington
10 Daniel Carter Canterbury
9 Aaron Smith * Manawatu
8 Kieran Read Canterbury
7 Richard McCaw (Capt.) Canterbury
6 Victor Vito Wellington
5 Samuel Whitelock Canterbury
4 Brodie Retallick * Bay of Plenty
3 Owen Franks Canterbury
2 Andrew Hore Taranaki
1 Tony Woodcock North Harbour
16 Hikawera Elliott Hawkes Bay
17 Benjamin Franks Tasman
18 Alistair Williams Auckland
19 Adam Thompson Otago
20 Piri Weepu Auckland
21 Aaron Cruden Manawatu
22 Benjamin Smith Otago
HEAD COACH: Steven Hansen

* New test caps



15 Robert Kearney  Leinster
14 Fergus McFadden  Leinster
13 Brian O'Driscoll (Capt.) Leinster
12 Keith Earls Munster
11 Simon Zebo * Munster
10 Jonathan Sexton  Leinster
9 Conor Murray Munster
8 James Heaslip  Leinster
7 Sean O'Brien  Leinster
6 Peter O'Mahony  Munster
5 Donnacha Ryan  Munster
4 Daniel Touhy * Ulster
3 Declan Fitzpatrick * Ulster
2 Rory Best  Ulster
1 Cian Healy  Leinster
16 Sean Cronin  Leinster
17 Ronan Loughney * Connacht
18 Donncha O'Callaghan  Munster
19 Kevin McLaughlin Leinster
20 Eoin Reddan  Leinster
21 Ronan O'Gara  Munster
22 Darren Cave  Ulster
HEAD COACH: Declan Kidney

* New test caps

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