Saturday, September 10, 2011

11th hour RWC preview: Ireland vs USA

Ireland vs USa in Santa Clara.
Credit: Tony Avelar / Associated Press

The countdown to the Ireland v USA's match at the 2011 Rugby World Cup is almost over, as both teams get ready to kick of at 6pm NZST (2am EST) in New Plymouth.

This match is highly anticipated here, and even with the odds stacked against the Eagles, many are wondering if we could see an upset for the Irish.

For the Eagles, with the match taking place on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and former Irish head coach Eddie O'Sullivan now at the helm, this game is going to be an emotional one.   Captain Todd Clever and O'Sullivan have already acknowledge this in interviews and to their credit, have sounded very calm and collected.  Channeling this emotion into motivation is key to their success.  O'Sullivan knows the lay of the Irish land to a certain extent and exploiting that can only benefit the US.  Other key factors is for the Eagles to settle down into the game early, while maintaining the physically pressure for the full 80 minutes (US should take some inspiration from the Romanians and Japanese). 


Ireland has a strong side with a wealth of experience with some doubts surrounding the new kid on the block, scrum-half Conor Murray, which Captain Brain O'Driscoll has publicly addressed.  Unfortunately, Ireland has looked a little out of sorts in the build up to the World Cup, with losses to both France and England. The Eagles are not of that calibre yet and Ireland has to date beaten the US on all of their six previous encounters.  However, I think the Irish are rightfully hesitate to think it won't be 7th time the charm just yet. 


So who are the danger men to watch?  For me, in the Irish squad its Jonathan Sexton & Ronan O'Gara with their respective deadly boot action and Brian O"Drisscol for being magical awesome.  For the Eagles, "Captain America" Todd Clever is a mass of pure physical power and strength, Takudzwa Ngwenya is quick as lighting, and Mike Petri's is a New York bad ass with the most scrum half experience on the field.

Overall, my expectations is for very physical game with a lot of open play. To me the team that settles down first I feel will have the edge to win this game.   As for a prediction, my head says Ireland will win, but my heart pines for a soaring Eagle triumph.

As a bonus, I wanted to share an interview I did on Friday with the Irish lads of The Score and Whiff of Crodite about this game.  Check out the interview here.

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