Thursday 22 February 2018

THE key battles

Josh van der Flier v Ardie Savea

Ireland have to win the scrap at the breakdown if they are to have any chance, but Ardie Savea has been outstanding so far. The younger brother of All-Black Julian, who was Player of the Tournament when they won three years ago, needs to be negated. Step forward Josh van der Flier (above), one of only two survivors from last year in South Africa and the former Wesley College man can propel Ireland towards victory by getting anywhere near parity from this exchange.

Luke McGrath v Sheridan Rangihuna/Tayler Adams

Don't expect Ireland to go wide too often, but they need to get a high execution rate in everything they do. McGrath (right), the skipper, led from the front in displaying flawless skill levels as Ireland dismantled the gigantic Wallabies and another showing will be vital this evening.

Peter Dooley

v Sione Mafileo

The North Harbour tighthead weighs in at 120kg and has been a cornerstone for the Baby Blacks so far in this tournament. But Dooley (above) from Birr, despite being just 18, looks the real deal for the future and the 109kg loosehead, who now plays with Lansdowne, can enhance a growing reputation.

Irish Independent

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