Preview: Ireland v New Zealand

Fri, 18 Nov 2016 07:33
Large underdogs  revenge 800

UNDERDOGS' REVENGE: World champions New Zealand will bid on Saturday to teach Ireland a lesson and prevent them from becoming the first team since South Africa in 2009 to beat them twice in a row.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen - who has, somewhat fancifully in many peoples, tagged them as the underdogs - is expecting a much more composed performance than the one they produced in Chicago when the Irish recorded a historic first win in 29 Test meetings stretching over 111 years.

Hansen has been able to recall experienced locks Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock, who should prove a more competitive unit both in the line-out and the scrum than the duo of Jerome Kaino and Patrick Tuipulotu, who started in Chicago.

"Yes, we are the underdog. Just go back to Chicago, it was 40-29 and they [Ireland] won easy. Strange or whatever, that is a fact and you can't argue with facts. They are what they are," said Hansen.

Up until the Irish defeat, Hansen had guided the All Blacks to a world record 18 successive Test victories. He said that his players were aware of the mistakes that had cost them in Chicago and are looking to put those right.

"We know we didn't play very well and we know we have to vastly improve because they are a very good side. If everyone performs their core roles such as line-outs, defence and kicking that should fix our performance and take it to another level.

"Certainly we must improve our discipline as we conceded 12 penalties in Chicago that allowed them to kick for position and put us on the back foot the whole time. You expect a couple of penalties but 12, that is really an off day," he added.

All Blacks hooker Dane Coles agreed that their discipline had to be of a far higher order than in the previous game. He added that they had to keep their emotions under control and not allow a red mist descend because of the previous result.

"You don't want to get too over-emotional. There's a danger you will do something stupid otherwise and you don't want to be spending time on the sidelines [in the sin bin]," Coles said.

Hansen's Ireland counterpart and fellow Kiwi Joe Schmidt dismissed any talk that his side were the favourites.

"I don't think so. I know Steve pretty well. Based on a recent result, he's put his summation on that. I don't think he believes we'll pay too much heed to that, because we know the quality they are.

"Part of that quality is their coaching team. I learned a lot off some of the people who are involved there. I think they are still in a really strong position. We just want to try to focus on our own performance, try to use Chicago as a reference point," Schmidt said.

Certainly, Ireland wing Simon Zebo, who had an outstanding game in Chicago, believes the All Blacks will come out all guns blazing.

"I think Steve Hansen's just being modest. We put in a good performance the last day but we all know New Zealand are going to perform a hell of a lot better this time," Zebo said.

Hansen, for his part, made it clear that he did not wish to revisit how he felt after the two defeats to South Africa when he was assistant coach.

"How would you feel? You would certainly not be laughing about it," he said.

Players to watch:

For Ireland: The leadership of Rory Best will be key if Ireland are to replicate their Chicago victory while the experienced Devin Toner will look to impose his massive frame at line-out time. The key to Ireland's success will be at the breakdown and that is where their loose trio of Jamie Heaslip, Sean O'Brien and Christian Stander will need to excel to claim another massive upset.

For New Zealand: The All Blacks were dominated at the breakdown in Chicago, so Sam Cane will need to up his game and ensure they gain ascendancy in that area. The halfback pairing of Aaron Smith and Beauden Barrett will need to be razor sharp to dictate the pace of the game. Although, all eyes will be on the flyhalf when it comes to kicking at goal. We can certainly expect Ardie Savea to make a massive impact off the bench.

Head to head: The set-pieces are going to be an interesting tussle, so both sets of forwards will be looking to assert themselves from the first blow of the whistle. Defensive organisation is another key area of this game and the team who manages to execute their defensive plan perfectly, will walk away victors.

Recent results:

2016: Ireland won 40-29, Chicago
2013: New Zealand won 24-22, Dublin
2012: New Zealand won 60-0, Hamilton
2012: New Zealand won 22-19, Christchurch
2012: New Zealand won 42-10, Auckland
2010: New Zealand won 38-18, Dublin
2010: New Zealand won 66-28, New Plymouth
2008: New Zealand won 22-3, Dublin
2008: New Zealand won 21-11, Wellington
2006: New Zealand won 27-17, Auckland

Prediction: This match is a lot harder to predict because of the result in Chicago not too long ago. Ireland are still on a massive high from that victory and will want to show their home fans that it was not a flash in the pan. There is only one thing on New Zealand's mind and that is to avenge the defeat that ended their winning streak. They would have certainly worked on the areas they were poor in and with so much pride up for grabs, the All Blacks will win this one in the final 20 minutes by about 12 points.

Teams:

Ireland: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Jared Payne, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Sean O'Brien, 6 Christian Stander, 5 Devin Toner, 4 Donnacha Ryan, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Rory Best (captain), 1 Jack McGrath.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Finlay Bealham, 19 Iain Henderson, 20 Josh van der Flier, 21 Kieran Marmion, 22 Paddy Jackson, 23 Garry Ringrose.

New Zealand: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Israel Dagg, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Anton Lienert-Brown, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Joe Moody.
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Aaron Cruden, 23 Waisake Naholo.

Date: Saturday, November 19
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Kick-off: 17.30 (17.30 GMT; 06.30 NZDT Sunday, November 20)
Expected weather: It's going to be a cold evening with a high of just 5, very little wind and some cloud cover.
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Mathieu Raynal (France), Ian Davies (Wales)
TMO: Jon Mason (Wales)

Agence France-Presse & @rugby365com