Saturday, 14 November 2009

"Power Green" vs Green and Gold

A couple of score lines from yesterday, Friday 13th November:

France 20 - 13 South Africa

Wales 17 - 13 Samoa

So the World Champions were taken down in the south of France.  Their score on Freaky Friday 13th?  13.
Wales scraped past Samoa at the Millennium Stadium and put the ghosts of Samoa's famous wins in Cardiff in the World Cups of 1991 and 1999 to rest.  Samoa's score?  13.

Two excellent results for the northern hemisphere teams against their southern hemisphere counterparts, who both only amassed an unlucky thirteen points each.    Maybe Wales's new change strip of cack-yellow is lucky for them?

Not so mellow

Of course I'll be watching England take on Argentina this weekend, but the game I really want to watch is Ireland vs Australia at Croke Park on Sunday.  England will be proudly wearing their new purple strip whilst the Irish boys are debuting their new strip which is apparently in "Power Green" (don't you just love all the marketing bunf).  Check out the promotional shot from last month:

Dear oh dear oh dear

Anyway, beyond the boy-band style jumping in the air and the naff marketing spiel, the real question is whether Ireland will be able to "power" past the Wallabies this Sunday.  (Sorry).

I really think they can.

Last week England's centres didn't put much pressure on the debut centre pairing of Quade Cooper and Digby Ioane, and this pair of Wallabies looked as if they'd been playing at test level together for years.  This weekend I envisage that O'Driscoll (who is winning his 100th test cap when he trots out against Australia) and Paddy Wallace will cause the youthful Wallabies a world of problems in comparison, especially when the likes of Rob Kearney will be rock solid and making strong angled runs from full back and the pace of Tommy Bowe and speed and sidestep of Luke Fitzgerald are out on the wings. 

Facing up against the Wallabies forwards is an impressive Ireland pack which is rammed full of world class front men:  Flannery (Munster), Hayes (Munster); O'Callaghan (Munster), O'Connell (Munster); Ferris (Ulster), David Wallace (Munster), Heaslip (Leinster), along with debutant Cian Healy (Leinster).  I think they will put much more pressure on the Wallabies at scrum time, and in the loose will be much more rapid at providing quick ball to their scrum-half (Tomas O'Leary) than the England forwards managed to provide Danny Care with last weekend.

Oh, and don't forget Ronan O'Gara: Ireland's top points scorer of all time.

Of course, the war of words to big up the opposition has been in full flow this week, with each team playing homage to the other.  Everyone has to appear to be modest now, don't they?

"It's going to be a litmus test for us," insisted Australia coach Robbie Deans.

"They're the grand slam Six Nations champions, European Cup champions two years in 08 and 09 (Munster and Leinster), so there's an awful lot of experience and belief in the group we're playing at Croke Park."


O'Driscoll was quick to return the compliment:

"Australia are a very smart team, the smartest in world rugby...  They think about how to break down defences and have the personnel to do that."

So who is going to win?  As a team Ireland are formidable opponents and much more of the finished and polished package than the England team that were outwitted by the streetwise Wallabies last weekend.

It's tough to call but I think with the partisan crowd of a packed Croker behind them, the "Power Green" clad Irishmen will do it.  It won't be Friday the thirteenth when these two teams meet but I still think it might be an unlucky day for the Green and Golds.

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