Match Preview: Ireland vs USA

Yarrow Stadium, New Plymouth, Sunday 11th Sep 6pm (NZT)
Head-to-head: Played 6, Ireland 6, USA 0
Last meeting: Ireland 27 beat USA 10 in Santa Clara 2009
Last meeting at a World Cup: Ireland 53 beat USA 8 in Dublin (Pool stage 1999)

Team news: Ireland were dealt a blow before they even touched down in New Zealand, with David Wallace ruled out of the World Cup after picking up an injury in Ireland’s final warm-up match. Declan Kidney has named a strong side for the opener, with only 22-year-old Conor Murray breaking into the team at the expense of Isaac Boss and Eoin Reddan. Eddie O’Sullivan has made eight changes to the USA team that lost to Japan in their final warm-up. Taku Ngwenya comes on to the wing for Kevin Swiryn, and will be hoping to match his form from the 2007 World Cup.

Form: Four losses from four starts, not the ideal warm-up for Ireland. This has done nothing to bury the memories of 2007, where they failed to get out of the pool stage. Their Six Nations campaign was a mixed bag, winning three from five, the trashing of old foe England 24-8 the highlight. The USA also lost all of their warm-up matches, losing two to Canada before the loss to Japan. The Eagles will be better for the game time in what will be a testing World Cup.

Prediction: Ireland start as firm favourites in this one, but as the other games have shown, no game is easy in this World Cup. O’Sullivan will have his side fired up against the team he took to France in 2007, but it will be a tough ask to get one over his homeland.
Ireland by 18

Ireland: 15.Geordan Murphy, 14.Tommy Bowe, 13.Brian O’Driscoll (capt), 12.Gordan D’Arcy, 11.Keith Earls, 10.Jonathan Sexton, 9.Conor Murray, 8.Jamie Heaslip, 7.Shane Jennings, 6.Stephen Ferris, 5.Paul O’Connell, 4.Donncha O’Callaghan, 3.Mike Ross, 2.Rory Best,
1.Tom Court.
Replacements: 16.Jerry Flannery, 17.Tony Buckley, 18.Donnacha Ryan, 19.Denis Leamy, 20.Eoin Reddan, 21.Ronan O’Gara, 22.Andrew Trimble.

USA: 15 .Blaine Scully, 14.Taku Ngwenya, 13.Paul Emerick, 12.Andrew Suniula, 11.James Paterson, 10.Roland Suniula, 9.Mike Petri, 8.Nic Johnson, 7.Todd Clever (capt), 6.Louis Stanfill, 5.Hayden Smith, 4.John van der Giessen, 3.Shawn Pittman, 2.Phil Thiel, 1.Mike MacDonald.
Replacements: 16.Chris Biller, 17.Matekitonga Moeakiola, 18.Scott LaValla, 19.Pat Danahy, 20.Tim Usasz, 21.Nese Malifa, 22.Colin Hawley.

By Alex Barlow-Smith