Thursday, August 25, 2011

Showdown at the the OK corral (AKA the Aviva) for Ireland and England, and All Blacks to pip the Walllabies.

Time to perform (picture from )
Saturday , August 27
Ireland vs England 14:30
Australia vs New Zealand 11:05
First off, a look at the matches, and then a quick look at the Ireland World Cup squad.
Starting off in Dublin, where Ireland welcome England to the Aviva stadium. This is a big one, a huge game for both teams. They both been underwhelming in the build up matches, although England did at least beat Wales, while Ireland are still to open their Summer 2011 account. A win here is non-negotiable for both teams, so it’s going to be irresistible force coming up against an immovable object (and I rather fancy England, with their focus on size, in the immovable object role). They both desperately need a win to kick start their 2011 World Cup campaign. Ireland v England is always a massive game anyway, and I’m struggling for adjectives here, this one is going to be – epic!
Both teams could pinpoint a 20 minute spell in their last team which would trouble any opposition – and a good 60 minutes that wouldn’t scare too many teams. For me, England are really missing Ashton and Youngs, and their centres leave me cold. Would have loved to see Barkley in there. They need to work out how to get Fodden more involved, and I’d also like to see armitage being given a crack at centre. Finally, their pack is looking ponderous, unlike the cement mixer treatment they giving most teams in the 6 nations.
Ireland look about 10% where they need to be to do some damage at this World Cup. I’m hoping that D’Arcy and O’Driscoll are going to shake off the ring rustiness off their first outing of the season. Then the whole team needs to show a bit of composure – be patient, run it when it’s on, but kick intelligently too. We have the firepower, we have the passion, just a bit of composure lads, and we can down the English for the umpteenth time in a row. I’ll do an update when the teams come out.

So those are the teams below, good to see Geordan back. I'm not sure about our centre pairing though, neither D'Arcy nor Earls has much form at themoment. I hope they set Ferris on Tuilagi as soon as possible. Not so sure if Ireland are going to win without O'Driscoll.

Ireland: 15 Geordan Murphy, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Keith Earls, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Andrew Trimble, 10 Ronan O'Gara, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 David Wallace, 6 Stephen Ferris, 5 Paul O'Connell, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Jerry Flannery, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Rory Best, 17 Tom Court , 18 Donnacha Ryan, 19 Denis Leamy, 20 Conor Murray, 21 Jonathan Sexton, 22 Fergus McFadden.

England: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Mike Tindall (captain), 11 Mark Cueto, 10 Jonny Wilkinson, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Nick Easter, 7 James Haskell, 6 Tom Croft, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Louis Deacon, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Steve Thompson, 1 Andrew Sheridan.
Replacements: 16 Dylan Hartley, 17 Matt Stevens, 18 Simon Shaw, 19 Tom Wood, 20 Joe Simpson, 21 Toby Flood, 22 Delon Armitage
Australia All Blacks
This is the Tri-nations decider, with the Boks, perennial jokers in the pack, gifting both teams an opportunity for the title. The match will not be graced by James O’Connor, omitted for acting his age and going out on the tear the night before the squad announcement. That makes way for Fainga’a in the centre, a better balanced backline now anyway in my opinion. Elsom has been relieved of the captaincy,  with Horwill a good replacement. This is as good a team as the Wallabies could have put  out, but is it going to be enough to take out the 50 stone gorilla in the black corner?
This is fairly close to an All Black A team, with only fatty Piri Weepu (sorry, horizontally challenged) and Adam Thompson the bolters. They are oozing with confidence at the moment, and on paper should take the Aussies no problem.  But Australia are one of two teams (France are the others) that make a habit of pooping the New Zealanders party, and they’re at home today as well..  Over the 80 minutes, in what is going to be a brutal encounter, maybe it’s the bench that is going to make the difference, and as the Blacks have more potent options there, I’m going with an All Black win, but only just.
New Zealand: 15 Mils Muliaina, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu , 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 Adam Thomson, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock
Replacements: 16 Andrew Hore, 17 John Afoa, 18 Ali Williams, 19 Victor Vito, 20 Andy Ellis, 21 Colin Slade, 22 Isaia Toeava.
Australia: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Anthony Fainga'a, 12 Pat McCabe, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Radike Samo, 7 David Pocock, 6 Rocky Elsom, 5 James Horwill (c), 4 Dan Vickerman, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Sekope Kepu. Replacements: 16 Saia Fainga'a, 17 Salesi Ma'afu, 18 Rob Simmons, 19 Ben McCalman, 20 Scott Higginbotham, 21 Luke Burgess, 22 TBA.
Ireland Squad
The big talking point of the squad was the exclusion of O’Leary and Fitzgerald, and the inclusion of Buckley. By weight, we could have left Buckley at home and taken them both! But only 30 players could go, and I feel for Fitzgerald, would have taken Horan instead of Buckley, but it’s Kidneys head on the block and he’s doing what he thinks is best for the country. Time to get behind the coach and team and do something special at the World Cup!
Ireland's World Cup 30: Rory Best, Isaac Boss, Tommy Bowe, Tony Buckley, Tom Court, Sean Cronin, Leo Cullen, Gordon D'Arcy, Keith Earls, Stephen Ferris, Jerry Flannery, Cian Healy, Jamie Heaslip, Rob Kearney, Denis Leamy, Fergus McFadden, Geordan Murphy, Conor Murray, Sean O'Brien, Donncha O'Callaghan, Paul O'Connell, Brian O'Driscoll, Ronan O'Gara, Eoin Reddan, Mike Ross, Donnacha Ryan, Jonathan Sexton, Andrew Trimble, Paddy Wallace, David Wallace.
BTW do me a fovour a drop over to

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