Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Rugby World Cup: Ireland home in on wizards of Aus

Captain Brian O'Driscoll trains ahead of Ireland's game against Australia tomorrow
Captain Brian O'Driscoll trains ahead of Ireland's game against Australia tomorrow

Stop Genia, stop Pocock. Those are the twin objectives for Ireland when they run out to face Australia in their crucial World Cup showdown in Eden Park tomorrow.

All week, those two Australian names have been to the forefront of Irish minds as they seek to get their World Cup campaign up and running following a disastrous warm-up series and disappointing opening win over the Americans.

Openside David Pocock is the Wallabies' destroyer-in-chief, a master at slowing down or robbing opponents' possession while scrum-half Will Genia is their primary playmaker, dictating the direction and focus of Australia's attacks while using his speed and strength to break around the fringes.

Ireland and Australia will be meeting for the fifth time at the World Cup with the Irish yet to taste victory, coming closest in 1991 at Lansdowne Road when they were only denied a semi-final place because of a late Michael Lynagh try.

Since beating the Wallabies twice on their 1979 tour, Ireland have only triumphed twice in 23 meetings and both wins came in November clashes in Dublin, in 2002 and 2006. The Wallabies go into the contest as 1/5 favourites after their win over the All Blacks to claim the Tri-Nations and bonus-point win over Italy in their first Pool C encounter.

Ireland are rated as 4/1 outsiders a reflection of their fall from grace since beating England in March, dropping four places in the world rankings to eighth.

The match is set to be a 60,000 sell-out and, with thousands of Australian and Irish supporters set to flood New Zealand's capital city, plans have put in place to ensure there is no repeat of the chaos that ensued for last week's opening ceremony and New Zealand-Tonga match.

For Australia, James O'Connor comes onto the wing for the injured Digby Ioane, while Drew Mitchell is named as a replacement.

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