Ireland vs New Zealand… what a mouthwatering clash!
It feels like this is a real watershed moment, almost like the proverbial passing of the baton.
If Ireland wins this game, they would equal the record-setting 18-game winning streak held by New Zealand and England and go past the 17-game winning streak that was South Africa’s best.
Let’s start with the All Blacks for this one.
Someone commented that we aren’t seeing the All Blacks in this World Cup but just New Zealand, and to some extent that has been true.
The All Blacks are real-life rugby legends and one the most successful top-level teams in any sport in the world. Unfortunately, this mythical group of superheroes has not yet pitched up at full strength during this World Cup.
France beat them in spectacular fashion in the opener just a few weekends after the Springboks also demolished them.
Since then the All Blacks have steadily improved and have put up some vintage displays of attacking rugby. They have played a number of combinations as their tried and tested combinations have not been at their best in recent weeks.
They were definitely impressive on attack… and that is the problem. They were only impressive on the attack. When their defense was really tested by France, they faltered.
Ireland on the other hand has shown that they can perform both on attack and defense. The physical nature of the game against South Africa and then again Scotland this last weekend was a testament to how good this team really is.
The South Africans were very physical both on attack and defense but Ireland kept their calm and got over the line to keep their unbeaten record intact. Scotland absolutely dominated in terms of the running meters, territory, and possession but Ireland still beat them by 22 points.
Ireland stays calm under pressure, absorbs the continued attacks of opposing teams, and then creates success from their chances. They don’t need many chances to pull off a win and are extremely effective in converting chances into points.
The All Blacks will not come into this game with anything less than their best and their undeniable World Cup pedigree. But they will be up against the most technically proficient team in world rugby at the moment.
I will be shocked if this one doesn’t go Ireland’s way.