Sportal.co.nz - 13/11/2008
It's been an ongoing target for Ireland to achieve a first win over the All Blacks and the home side will be looking for inspiration at its temporary accommodation at Croke Park when the sides meet for the 22nd time on Sunday (NZT).
VENUE & TIME: Croke Park, Dublin, Sunday November 16, 6:15 NZT.
HEAD TO HEAD: Played 21 - New Zealand 20, Ireland 0, Draws 1.
LAST TIME: June 7, 2008 (Wellington) - New Zealand 21-11 Ireland.
WALKING WOUNDED: New Zealand has been joined by replacement halfback Alby Mathewson after Andy Ellis suffered a rib injury soon after taking the field as a substitute against Scotland at the weekend. After being unavailable for Ireland's Test match against Canada last weekend halfback Tomas O'Leary has been named ahead of Eoin Reddan for the game.
FORM: Again the lack of playing time together will affect New Zealand's form but such has been the relative ease that players have slipped into the side there should be little effect for this Test match. Keith Earls at fullback was one of the stars for Ireland but has been replaced at fullback by Girvan Dempsey. Centre Conrad Smith was in good touch for Wellington and will be looking to transfer that to the All Blacks with Richard Kahui breathing down his neck. Captain Richie McCaw remains the key performer for the All Blacks and demonstrated this again, in his time as a substitute last weekend.
WHO'S HOT: Left wing Rob Kearney had a fine outing against Canada scoring two tries while on the other wing Tommy Bowe also crossed twice. Whenever he lines up against the All Blacks, first five-eighths Ronan O'Gara has cause to wonder if this will be the day he has his chance to make his mark over the All Blacks' Dan Carter. O'Gara landed five conversions and a penalty goal in last week's win. Flanker David Wallace has been a solid performer in the loose with enough experience against New Zealand now to know how to make himself a real nuisance. Wing Joe Rokocoko went looking for work, impressively, against Scotland while lock Ali Williams has been performing superbly all season. His clash with Paul O'Connell will be a key part of this contest.
WE THINK: Ireland has made several changes from the side which competed well yet again on their tour to New Zealand earlier in the year. But this is a more confident All Blacks side and that should be reflected in the final outcome. There will be some initial jitters as combinations attempt to gel but upsetting the All Blacks in that time frame would appear the only route to an upset for the home team and for what would be an historic victory.
Ireland 1 - Marcus Horan, 2 - Rory Best, 3 - John Hayes, 4 - Donncha O'Callaghan, 5 - Paul O'Connell, 6 - Alan Quinlan, 7 - David Wallace, 8 - James Heaslip, 9 - Tomas O'Leary, 10 - Ronan O'Gara, 11 - Rob Kearney, 12 - Luke Fitzgerald, 13 - Brian O'Driscoll (captain), 14 - Tommy Bowe, 15 - Girvan Dempsey.
Reserves: 16 - Jerry Flannery, 17 - Tony Buckley, 18 - Stephen Ferris, 19 - Shane Jennings, 20 - Eoin Reddan, 21 - Paddy Wallace, 22 - Keith Earls.
New Zealand 1 - Tony Woodcock, 2 - Keven Mealamu, 3 - Neemia Tialata, 4 - Brad Thorn, 5 - Ali Williams, 6 - Jerome Kaino, 7 - Richie McCaw (captain), 8 - Rodney So'oialo, 9 - Jimmy Cowan, 10 - Dan Carter, 11 - Sitiveni Sivivatu, 12 - Ma'a Nonu, 13 - Conrad Smith, 14 - Josevata Rokocoko, 15 - Mils Muliaina
Reserves: 16 - Corey Flynn, 17 - John Afoa, 18 - Anthony Boric, 19 - Kieran Read, 20 - Piri Weepu, 21 - Stephen Donald, 22 - Isaia Toeava.
REFEREE : Mark Lawrence