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Irish eyes should smile again

Sep 22, 2011 4:07:56 PM - www.ft.lk

To say that the Wallabies had an off day against the Irish would be an injustice to the Irish.
From the outset the Irish had a game plan and that was to deny the Aussie backs good clean ball.
They executed this plan to perfection and Man of the Match Healy, ably assisted by the destructive tighthead Mike Ross, led the rout.
On the back of a sensational display from the pack and an incredible defensive effort all round, Ireland pulled off one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history courtesy of five penalties.

The Wallabies certainly missed the services of their mercurial open side flanker David Pocock, and whilst the loss of one individual should not have a significant impact, the Wallabies squad is such that there is no worthy replacement ‘open side’ flanker.  
This does not mean it’s the end of the road for the Walllabies but it is a little more difficult road to the final as the chances of them topping their group is slim.
The result places South Africa and Australia on a quarter-final collision course before a likely meeting with New Zealand, if as expected they defeat France, in the last four.
In terms of some RWC trivia, I am advised that the oldest team is Ireland (average age: 29 years, 34 days) and the youngest is Australia (average age: 25 years, 363 days)
The Irish will be back in action this weekend when they take on Russia. Will the Irish eyes smile once more?
The All Blacks game against France has drawn a fair bit of media speculation in respect of team selection.
The All Blacks will have Captain Richie McCaw, Israel Dagg and Mils Muliaina available for selection against France after missing the previous game.
Their bench strength is such that they are able to mix and match at will. Whether they can afford the same against stronger opposition as evidenced in the Tri Nations tournament is questionable.
France have been criticised for selecting what has been described as a largely second-string line-up against the All Blacks, with Morgan Parra starting his first Test at fly-half.
Victory for France would mean that they move into the tougher half of the quarter-final draw where Australia and South Africa are almost certain to qualify and thereby provide stiff opposition.
Defeat would confront them with likely knockout matches against any two of England, Ireland and Wales impeding their route to the final. France coach Marc Lievremont has been accused of picking a team to lose.
Despite all these off field accusations, the All Blacks are expected to turn in a strong performance.
Scotland will take on Argentina and Rory Lawson has held on to the captain’s role for Scotland’s crunch clash with Argentina.
It had been assumed that regular skipper Alastair Kellock would be recalled for the meeting with the Pumas. However, he has again been omitted from Scotland’s match-day squad; with head coach Andy Robinson opting to pair Richie Gray and Jim Hamilton in the second-row.
A lot of rugby enthusiasts were quite miffed last weekend to discover that our sole service provider had decided to telecast the Davis Cup games as opposed to the RWC games. My response to the numerous callers was that the advertising sponsorship that emanated, as a result of the Davis Cup being shown live, was stupendous given the number of tennis lovers.
Once again not all of this weekend’s matches will be shown live, hence checking the TV schedules should keep the blood pressure down and the swear words to a minimum.

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