2018 International Rugby: Ireland v New Zealand Preview

A rugby player fends off a tackle

The two top ranked sides in world rugby will collide this weekend when Ireland host New Zealand at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

Ireland v New Zealand
17 November
Aviva Stadium, Dublin

To Win (80 mins)
Ireland 2/1
Draw 20/1
 New Zealand 4/10

Ireland (+6) 9/10
New Zealand (-6) 9/10

*Forecast handicaps

Saturday’s Test match is one of the most hotly anticipated in recent memory, with Six Nations Grand Slammers Ireland out to beat the All Blacks for what would be just the second time in their history following their famous 40-29 win in Chicago in 2016.

New Zealand, though, will be buoyed by a slender win over England at Twickenham and have the luxury of fielding a virtually full-strength line-up.

The men from the Emerald Isle on the other hand, will be without key operators in Connor Murray (neck) and Robbie Henshaw (hamstring). Murray’s loss will be a particularly hard felt, with the 29-year-old’s immaculate kicking game a vital cog in the Joe Schmidt machine. In his place, a lot will be expected of Leinsterman Luke McGrath at the base of the scrum.

Rory Best’s men have beaten South Africa, Australia (twice) and Argentina over the past 12 months. Their formula, based around rock-solid phase play and an accurate kicking game, have propelled them to second place on the World Rugby rankings, their highest ever.

To beat New Zealand, though, they will need to score tries. Whether that comes from the hard, direct running synonymous with this Irish bunch or out wide, crossing the chalk will of huge significance. Expected dry conditions mean the likes of Jacob Stockdale and Keith Earls may get opportunities on the wing, but that’s only if their pack can earn some ascendancy up front.

With the possession stakes likely to be even for much of the contest, a lot will depend on either side’s ability to make the most of any chances that come their way. The game may well come down to a kicking duel between Beauden Barrett and Jonathan Sexton, so expect both 10’s to be in the thick of the action.

Verdict: New Zealand (-6) 9/10 *Forecast handicap
It may have been a different story with Murray involved, but the AB’s may just flaunt their class and come away with a win of 10 or less in a Test that will have huge ramifications in the build up to next year’s Rugby World Cup.

Written by Shaun Goosen for Hollywoodbets

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