Date: 20th August 2011
Time: 17:00 GMT
Venue: Lansdowne Road, Dublin
Referee: Craig Joubert (S.A)
Last Saturday saw a game of two halves, France dominated early on, Ireland showed much promise in the second 40 minutes in Bordeaux. However, Ireland need to lay down a marker this weekend and get over the tryline. Declan Kidney has named the strongest XV available to him for Saturdays game including Steven Ferris on the bench in his first appearance since last January.
French coach Marc Lievremont makes a total of 13 changes to the team that beat Ireland last weekend, The only survivors are wing Alexis Palisson and hooker Dimitri Szarzewski. Palisson is joined in the backline by fullback Cedric Heymans, winger Maxime Medard and a return for Aurelien Rougerie to partner Fabrice Estebanez in the center. The other notable change in the French team is the considerably weaker backrow named for this week (Quegraogo, Bonnaire and Picamolesthan) in comparison to last weeks backrow of Dusautoir, Harinordoquy and Lakafia, this may be the chink in their armor.
Kidney’s preferred center partnership of O’Driscoll and D’Arcy is the big change for Ireland, Hopefully they can bring some much needed creativity into midfiled that has been lacking in the previous two games. This is the first choice Ireland pack that has been selected, Paul O’Connell starts alongside fellow Munster lock Donnacha O’Callaghan. Irelands backrow of O’Brien, Wallace and Heaslip is where I see Ireland getting the upper-hand in this game. All three are expert ball-carriers and should be able to put the French backline under some considerable pressure.
What to expect:
Ireland need to start producing results in the next two games. The 22 players named on this matchday squad are almost guaranteed a spot on the plane to New Zealand. Kidney names his 30-man squad on Sunday so all will be keen to leave a positive impression on him.
All eyes on:
Felix Jones makes his first international start for Ireland, he will be keen to make a good impression in Rob Kearney’s absence. Geordan Murphy’s rather cryptic tweet the other night “The obese lady has opened her vocal chords!!” does this indicate that Jones has cemented his place on the plane to NZ as backup to Kearney? Alos the return of O’Driscoll and D’Arcy is sure to get much attention in what will be a tough physical game for both facing Rougerie and Estebanez
Last fixture: 13th August France 19-12 Ireland, Bordeaux, France
Weather: Mild, Dry.
Ireland gave a glimpse of their potential in the second half last week, I think they will tun the French over here, I’m predicting and Irish win by 8+.