10 mins ago
WELCOME TO TODAY’s liveblog where the world’s No1 side, Ireland, take on the world champions, South Africa, at the Aviva Stadium.
It promises to be a fascinating contest, not just because of the clash of styles, but also because of the longer-term implications. Whoever wins today is essentially laying down a marker ahead of next year’s World Cup, when these teams reunite in the pool stages.
Each team have a distinct way of playing, South Africa unashamedly preferring to use grunt, Ireland guile. The Irish game-plan has essentially been borrowed from Leinster’s playbook, so many of Leo Cullen’s starting XV swapping blue for green.
And it has worked. Ever since England were comprehensively beaten in the 2021 Six Nations, Ireland have been on an upward curve. They were brilliant against Japan and Argentina and then moved onto another level in three of their four meetings with New Zealand.
South Africa, meanwhile, have done what South Africa often do inbetween World Cups, experimenting a little, before returning to what they do best. During the Rugby Championship, they mauled their way to victory over Argentina but on other occasions they spun it wide. Indeed over 50 per cent of their tries came from open play.
It’ll be interesting to see how they get on today without de Klerk and Pollard as their starting half-backs. Will this result in a little more ambition? Will their giant pack ensure that the game is played on their terms? Or can Ireland impose their will on proceedings?
If they are to do so then a big performance isn’t just needed from Johnny Sexton but also Stuart McCloskey outside him. The big Ulsterman is winning just his seventh cap, Robert Baloucoune only his third. It’s sink-or-swim time for them; it’s pretty important for everyone else, too.
Kick-off is just under an hour away. So let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
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Publish date : 2022-11-05 16:33:28