A fortnight after Ireland’s stunning victory over South Africa, by a 29-15 scoreline that in no way flattered Joe Schmidt’s men, Australia travel to the Aviva Stadium with many more questions than answers hanging over their squad.
Here are our three best bets for the Dublin clash, which is on the box and should be a cracker:
Ireland -8 to win @ 2/1
Since Schmidt took over from Declan Kidney 18 months ago, Ireland have improved out of sight, winning all-but three of their 15 fixtures and getting within two minutes of besting the All Blacks for the first time 12 months ago.
The Six Nations champions lost to Australia at the Aviva Stadium immediately prior to the 24-22 near miss against New Zealand, but they’ve won all five of their Dublin fixtures since by at least eight points, including last time out against South Africa and when Wales visited in February.
Former Leinster coach Michael Cheika knows all about this Ireland team, having trained half of them, but the chaotic nature of his appointment following the toppling of Ewan McKenzie cannot have helped settle the Wallabies, who lost 29-26 to an evolving France side last weekend.
Meanwhile, most of Ireland’s first team watched their would-be replacements ease past Georgia last time out from the stands in preparation for this. Their rest won’t have been wasted.
No Drop Goal @ 2/5
Remarkably, it has been 24 Tests since a fixture involving Ireland saw a drop goal scored.
Australia have kicked two in their last six outings, but they’ll struggle to find much space in the pocket against Schmidt’s side.
Kidney’s last Ireland captain, who has been usurped in the role by Paul O’Connell since Schmidt took over, has a handy record of touching down for his country.
Like all good number eights, Heaslip knows where the try line is and has gone over nine times in 68 Ireland Tests, plus a whopping 35 in nearly a decade with Leinster.
The 30-year-old let fellow back-row Rhys Ruddock hog the try-scoring glory in the Springboks win. Expect Heaslip to get back to his ball-carrying best against the Aussies.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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