On the back of an impressive come from behind victory at Suncorp last weekend, the Wallabies’ confidence will be riding high ahead of their second clash with the Irish this Saturday night.
Kicking off at 8:00pm (AEST), Australia’s late stand last week highlighted the future promise for a side that’s lacked consistency in recent years.
Snapping Ireland’s 12-game unbeaten streak was worth celebrating, but in order for the the Aussies to go two-zip in this series, they’ll need to come out with the same kind of aggressive attitude that helped them earn an 18-9 victory last week.
Trips to Australia haven’t been all that kind to the Irish – they haven’t won a match down under since 1979. The green and gold will be keen to keep that streak alive in front of what is expected to be a big crowd at AAMI Park on Saturday night.
Saturday 16 June, 8:00pm, AAMI Park
On the back of last week’s success, coach Michael Cheika’s side remains unchanged ahead of this weekend.
Players like Israel Folau and Bernard Foley were no doubt the highlight for the Wallabies on attack, but the back line of Michael Hooper, David Pocock and Caleb Timu were perhaps the biggest standouts from Game 1.
The Irish on the other hand are expected to make a handful of changes ahead of Saturday night, and they certainly have the depth to do so. The No. 2 ranked side sat the likes of Jordan Larmour and Sean Cronin, two players that Ireland coach Joe Schmidt will likely look towards this weekend.
A big problem for the Irish was the aforementioned Folau. The 29-year old rewound the clock to his AFL days on Saturday night, taking two spectacular marks and also finding space on the wing for a disallowed try. Ireland needs to find an answer for Folau’s aerial assault, as well as the overall athleticism that this Australian side holds.
The key for the Irish to finally end their 39-year downunder drought is to make Australia pay for their mistakes. The Wallabies conceded 11 penalties last weekend, and gave up favorable field position on more than one occasion.
Australia managed to withstand a 19 phase attack just after the halftime interval, a testament to the Wallabies’ resilience. C.J Stander’s missed try-scoring opportunity on that set was a huge letdown for the Irish trailing by only 8-6 at the time, an uncommon mistake from the Six Nations Grand Slam champions.
For the Wallabies, they’ll feel confident knowing that all five of their scrums were a success, but the biggest win came in the tackle count. The Wallabies landed 183 tackles in defence compared to Ireland’s 131, while also choosing to kick the ball much more than expected.
Aside from the stat sheet, though, the Wallabies finally looked cool, calm and collected. They were able to absorb the pressure the Irish threw at them – even their 80th minute stand when the game was already won showed the character Cheika has instilled in this team.
For a change, things looked and felt a little different, and if the Wallabies can once again come up with different ways to attack and avoid succumbing to the pressure in the big moments of the game, they can easily take this series.
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