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Rugby World Cup 2011 Match Preview – Australia vs. Ireland

The two top ranked teams in Pool C meet in a game which should decide the final rankings of the qualifiers from the group. Both sides should be up for this game and it could go either way at Eden Park.

Australia will start as favourites after a 32 – 6 victory over Italy in their first match. Their starting side is largely unchanged since that match; the withdrawal of Digby Ioane with a broken thumb meaning that James O’Connor slots back into the backline (after his disciplinary dropping) with minimal re-arrangement. The Australians are on form and confident as tri-nations champions.

Openside flanker David Pocock has been struggling with a sore back and missed the captain’s run on Friday, but will be given until the morning of the match to recover. Australia have no like for like replacement in their squad, with cover likely to be in the form of Rocky Elsom switching sides of the scrum and one of Ben McCalman or Scott Higginbotham starting on the blindside if Pocock does not recover.

Ireland’s form has not been exceptional during their build up to the Rugby World Cup and four warm-up losses were followed by a scratchy 22 – 10 win over the un-fancied USA side in their first World Cup match. However the side Declan Kidney named has plenty of class and experience and they will be hoping to ignore the form book and turn the Wallabies over. Fly-half Jonathan Sexton keeps his place ahead of the experienced Ronan O’Gara, showing Ireland’s desire to play an expansive running style. Rob Kearney, Cian Healy and Sean O’Brien have returned to the side following their recovery from injuries and should add strength and strike power to the team.

If David Pocock plays, expect Ireland to struggle at the breakdown; their own specialist fetcher, David Wallace, having been cruelly ruled out of the tournament following an injury in their final warm up match. Australia have more strike power out wide and their forwards have been solid this year. Still, Ireland’s back row are a powerful unit on the run and in the tackle; their midfield has class and experience; and their locking pair will look forward to challenging the Wallabies duo. Ireland are capable of raising their game; the Wallabies’ intensity could be the deciding factor.

Kick off: 8:30pm NZ time / 8:30am GMT / 6:30pm Australian EST / 9:30am Irish Standard Time.

Starting Line-Ups – Australia vs Ireland Rugby World Cup 2011

Australia Starting XV

15 Kurtley Beale
14 James O’Connor
13 Anthony Fainga’a
12 Pat McCabe
11 Adam Ashley-Cooper
10 Quade Cooper
9 Will Genia
1 Sekope Kepu
2 Stephen Moore
3 Ben Alexander
4 Dan Vickerman
5 James Horwill (capt)
6 Rocky Elsom
7 David Pocock
8 Radike Samo
16 Tatafu Polota-Nau
17 James Slipper
18 Rob Simmons
19 Ben McCalman
20 Scott Higginbotham
21 Luke Burgess
22 Drew Mitchell

Ireland Starting XV

15 Rob Kearney
14 Tommy Bowe
13 Brian O’Driscoll
12 Gordon D’Arcy
11 Keith Earls
10 Jonathan Sexton
9 Eoin Reddan
1 Cian Healy
2 Rory Best
3 Mike Ross
4 Donncha O’Callaghan
5 Paul O’Connell
6 Stephen Ferris
7 Sean O’Brien
8 Jamie Heaslip
16 Jerry Flannery
17 Tom Court
18 Donnacha Ryan
19 Denis Leamy
20 Conor Murray
21 Ronan O’Gara
22 Andew Trimble

About Michael Gardner

Michael Gardner
Michael Gardner is at the Rugby World Cup 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand, providing first-hand coverage of the action on the pitch.

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