Here’s What The New Zealand Media Are Saying Ahead Of This Weekend’s Game
Ireland take on New Zealand this Saturday in a return clash following their historic win in Chicago.
That win was Ireland’s first over the All Blacks in their 111 year history of playing each other, and came in emphatic fashion, with Ireland racking up five tries in a memorable 40-29 win.
The build-up has been excellent all week with the two sides go back and forth following Ireland’s shock win which has now made this weekend’s clash one of the most hotly anticipated international clashes in recent memory.
First up we take a look at popular New Zealand rugby site, Stuff.co.nz, with sports writer Hamish Bidwell taking a look at the encounters between Ireland and New Zealand over the years. His conclusion however is pretty condescending, stating that it’s ‘one-sided history’ barely deserving to be termed a rivalry.
Good luck to the Irish.
If you huff and puff long enough, the odds are you’ll blow your opponent’s house down eventually.
So, 111 years and a goodly number of thrashings after their first encounter in 1905, Ireland finally did beat New Zealand in a rugby test. Congratulations to them, but that 40-29 victory in Chicago hardly means we have to start viewing this as one of the game’s great and enduring rivalries.
Ben Strang and Llew Jones, also writing for Stuff.co.nz, note the impact that Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick will have this weekend, with the world-class lock pairing making their much anticipated returns, and take a look at how the All Blacks will approach the game tactically.
This is a big one for the All Blacks. They were dominated by Ireland in Chicago, particularly at lineout time.
With an unfamiliar lock pairing, Dane Coles struggled to hit his targets, often over throwing them. That isn’t all down to Coles. He was forced to keep the ball away from Irish nuisance Devin Toner, who dwarfs the New Zealand locks.
New Zealand’s lineout success was only 80 per cent as a result. They found success when they showed variation in their lineouts, removing men to make use of their speed.
Expect Kieran Read to call for several four or five-man lineouts, making the most of the fact they are faster than the Irish. With extra room to move, you’d expect the lineout to start humming again. Toner will have to work on the move, something a man of his size is unlikely to do too well.
Gregor Paul of the New Zealand Herald also highlights the return of the set-piece duo. He believes the line-out will be a key facet this weekend.
The lineout had been superb all season and then had a 40-minute malfunction without Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick. The return of those two will go a long way to restoring order at both the set piece and collisions.
With better lineout ball will come the opportunity to launch more effective attacks. If there is sharper handling then it will allow the All Blacks to play in front of the gainline and then compound the misery by attacking with momentum off second phase.
Win the nasty stuff in the forwards and it creates time and space for the key decision-makers Aaron Smith and Beauden Barrett to wield their respective influence. It’s not such a complicated business.
Can Ireland do it again or will the All Blacks vengeance be too much for Joe Schmidt’s men? Either way, it’s going to be momentous occasion.