RWC Match Preview - Ireland vs Russia
RWC Match Preview - Ireland vs Russia
RWC 2011 game preview – Ireland v Russia
Ireland’s biggest challenge for this game will be deciding how many changes to make to their starting XV after their punishing victory over Australia. That victory saw Ireland move up to 6th in the IRB rankings while Russia’s recent form has seen them slip down 2 places to 21st in the world.
Russia’s forwards will be unable to cope with even Ireland’s weakest available pack so if Declan Kidney so feels he could rest his key players like Paul O’Connell, Rory Best, Sean O’Brien and Jamie Heaslip with one eye on the knock out stages of the competition where they are likely to meet Wales, followed by England or France. Before they reach the knock out stages Ireland will have one remaining Pool match after this one, which promises to be another intense battle with Italy, the team who almost beat them in this year’s 6 Nations Championship. The Irish team manager Paul McNaughton has ruled out dramatic changes to the team he said “We won’t make that many changes and will take the game extremely seriously”.
Ireland will need to rest some of their forwards in preparation for the Italy game but they have not really settled on a starting pair of half backs yet in this tournament so I expect to see both scrum halves Conor Murray, Eoin Reddan and both fly halves Ronan O’Gara and Jonathan Sexton get game time in this fixture. The centre pairing of Gordon D’Arcy and skipper Brian O’Driscoll has not been at its most fluent over recent games so they will be looking forward to a run out against a side who have 3 centre’s who all play in the domestic league and have very little experience playing against top quality opponents. However Brian O’Driscoll has been injured recently and is one of the older members of their squad so Kidney may choose to use him very sparingly. Ireland have other injury concerns include Tommy Bowe, who could be O’Driscoll’s replacement in the number 13 shirt in the event of an injury and O’Driscoll’s centre partner Gordon D’Arcy and second row forward Paul O’Connell both picked up slight hamstring injuries against Australia.
Russia’s interest in this fixture is limited to 1 player who will be looking to making a statement of intent against players who he could meet later this season in the Heineken Cup competition and another player who will looking forward to renewing acquaintances with his former teammates and a few old foes. Russian winger Vasily Artemiev has signed with Northampton Saints for this season and the Saints have been drawn in Heineken Cup Pool 1 alongside Irish heavy weights Munster, who provide 8 of the current Irish squad. Artemiev’s Irish connections do not end there either; he studied at Blackrock College and helped their rugby team to win both the Junior and Senior cup. He went on to study Law at the University College Dublin and represent their rugby team and in 2007 was selected to represent the Irish Universities team. Artemiev also represented Leinster School’s Under 19’and 20’s teams and was selected for the Irish Schools teams at the same age groups. Adam Byrnes is another Russian representative with connections to Leinster; the giant second row played 18 games for Leinster in the 2005-6 season in the Heineken Cup and the Celtic League. He would have played alongside current Ireland players like Darcy, O’Driscoll, Heaslip and Rob Kearney. Byrnes is a team mate of Wales’ Gareth Delve at the Melbourne Rebels and Gareth Delve alerted his former coach at Gloucester Kingsley Jones, who now coaches Russia to Byrnes’ Russian qualification.
Whoever they select Ireland should win this game at a canter, the bookmakers odds suggest that Ireland are favourites to win by between 31 and 40 points, but with their next opponents Italy having defeated the Russians by 36 points last week the Irish will surely want to lay a marker down for their upcoming clash.
Blog by @Buck_Mitchell
24-09-11 11:55 AM