All you need to know about the second Test between Australia and Ireland in Melbourne
Australia v Ireland Preview for Match Two
Last week’s series opener between Australia and Ireland was such a close affair that in the end it took a decisive, dominant scrum from the Wallabies, a bullying breakdown performance from David Pocock and a CJ Stander try that never was to see the worlds’ No 2 side defeated.
The manner of that 18-9 loss is why Ireland boss Joe Schmidt has made big changes to his pack. He hopes to counter their hosts’ set-piece and to combat the work of Wallaby scavengers.
Game one was a furiously physical contest, with the result in the balance to the death. Many will point to Stander’s incredible run for the line that ended with the No 8 unable to get a decisive grounding under the bodies of Marika Koroibete and Dane Haylett-Petty.
However, the Wallabies deserve great credit for their tenacity and gumption up front. Even though questions were raised about why a late Kieran Marmion try was chalked off for a dubious ‘knock-on’, the result had been secured already.
Related – Australia’s scrum analysed in current issue of Rugby World
So how can Ireland turn things around in Test two?
What’s the big team news?
For the visitors, Johnny Sexton returns at fly-half as Joe Schmidt makes eight changes. Andrew Conway and Garry Ringrose also come into the back-line, while there is a new-look front row with Cian Healy, Niall Scannell and Tadhg Furlong joining forces.
Mr Reliable, Devin Toner replaces Iain Henderson at lock and Dan Leavy comes in for Jordi Murphy on the flank.
Meanwhile, perhaps in an attempt to show that the breakdown is not just a green and gold domain, turnover-specialist Tadhg Beirne looks in line for his Test debut as he is listed amongst the substitutes.
Related – The remarkable story of Tadhg Beirne
The Wallabies have rewarded last week’s winning side by putting out an unchanged team this week, which means Ireland know exactly what’s coming…
What have the coaches said?
“He’ll wear (the scrutiny). He’s a tough guy. I think it’s been a bit overblown. He’s just going to rucks and trying to make tackles and get up. That’s football, that’s rugby. I don’t know why it’s such a big deal,” Cheika said of breakdown nuisance and last week’s man of the match, Pocock.
Cheika was also reacting to the words of Irish columnist Neil Francis, who described Pocock as “a cancer on the game” earlier in the week. Cheika continued: “That guy needs to choose his words better. It’s not a very nice term to use to say … there are people who are really sick out there so I’m not into that.”
Meanwhile, Joe Schmidt said: “With Australia naming the same team, we’re very confident that they’ll come well prepared and they’ll improve their game a little bit, so we’ve got to improve that little bit more because I felt they were very good last Saturday.”
Any interesting statistics?
46 – This is the first time in Michael Cheika’s four-year reign as Wallabies head coach – spanning 46 Tests – that he has picked the same side for two consecutive matches.
56 – David Pocock’s number of ruck involvements last week. That includes four turnovers in 15 attempts to steal the ball.
81.3% – Australia’s lineout win percentage last week (Ireland’s was 100%).
2 – Ireland lost in their two previous visits to Melbourne (17-16 at RWC 2003 and 18-12 in 2008)
1.66 – The ranking points available if Ireland win, meaning they stay in second place in the World Rankings. If they lose, they swap places with Australia in third.
When does it kick off and is it on TV?
This will be played at AAMI Park in Melbourne, Kick-off is at 11am UK and Ireland time. Match coverage will be shown live on Sky Sports Action from 10.45am.
Paul Williams from New Zealand will be the referee.
What are the line-ups?
Australia: Israel Folau; Dane Haylett-Petty, Samu Kerevi, Kurtley Beale, Marika Koroibete; Bernard Foley, Will Genia; Scott Sio, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Sekope Kepu, Izack Rodda, Adam Coleman, David Pocock, Michael Hooper (capt), Caleb Timu.
Replacements: Tolu Latu, Tom Robertson, Taniela Tupou, Rob Simmons, Lukhan Tui, Pete Samu, Nick Phipps, Reece Hodge.
Ireland: Rob Kearney; Andrew Conway, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, Keith Earls; Johnny Sexton, Conor Murray; Cian Healy, Niall Scannell, Tadhg Furlong; Devin Toner, James Ryan, Peter O’Mahony (capt), Dan Leavy, CJ Stander.
Replacements: Rob Herring, Jack McGrath, Andrew Porter, Tadhg Beirne, Jordi Murphy, John Cooney, Joey Carbery, Jordan Larmour.