RUGBY UNION – NEW ZEALAND v IRELAND – June 7th
KEY PLAYERS / NEWS
New Zealand entertain Ireland at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington in their first international outing since the Rugby World Cup. Anthony Tuitavake will make his New Zealand debut after being selected on the wing to play in the one-off Test against Ireland. The 25-year-old back is the only one of the six new squad members to make the starting line-up, although Anthony Boric, Adam Thomson and Stephen Donald have been named on the bench. Tuitavake is an exciting player with a turn of pace, and at 89kg is deceptively strong in the tackle and is able to break the first line of defence on a regular basis probably thanks to his apprenticeship with the Kiwi Sevens side.
Interim head coach Michael Bradley has picked the bulk of Munster’s Heineken Cup-winning pack and selected a back line dominated by Leinster’s Magners League winners. Centre Luke Fitzgerald was due to start alongside Brian O’Driscoll in midfield, but having failed a fitness test, Paddy Wallace will partner the skipper. The starting XV also includes Eoin Reddan, fresh from Wasps’ success in the Guinness Premiership final against Leicester. Reddan, Leicester’s Geordan Murphy and O’Driscoll had their first run with the squad on Tuesday.
Experienced fly-half Ronan O’Gara will be tasked with pulling the backline strings, and will come up against a stern test when he meets the halfback pairing of Super 14-winning Crusaders stars, Dan Carter and Andy Ellis.
Bradley is under no illusion of the task ahead of Ireland, who have not beaten New Zealand in 20 attempts.
Backing against the All Blacks “in their own back yard” is surely folly. The Irish have talked up this game as one of their best chances to beat the Kiwis on their own turf. However, despite as many as ten top All Blacks no longer in the side, an All Black win still seems likely. With dangerous runners in Ma’a Nonu and Sitiveni Sivivatu still at the heart of their line-up, surely a +15.5 point handicap bet (bet365) is the only possible option for any punter seeking to back the Irish.
1/9 New Zealand (totesport), 13/2 Ireland, 40/1 Draw (both bet365).
10/11 New Zealand -15 points 10/11 Ireland +15 points, 18/1 Handicap Tie (Boylesports)
Handicap Betting, No Draw
10/11 New Zealand -14.5 points (bet365), 10/11 Ireland +15.5 points (bet365)
First Team to Score
8/13 New Zealand (888sport), 13/8 Ireland (Stan James)
First Scoring Play
7/4 New Zealand Penalty (Boylesports)
5/2 Ireland Penalty (Stan James)
7/2 New Zealand Try (888sport)
8/1 Ireland Try (Stan James)
28/1 Ireland Drop Goal (bet365)
33/1 New Zealand Drop Goal (Stan James)
1000/1 Neither team to Score (totesport)
10/1 Sitiveni Sivivatu, Anthony Tuitavake (both 888sport), 12/1 Leon MacDonald (Paddy Power), 14/1 Mils Muliaina, Ma’a Nonu, Craig Smith (all SkyBet), 16/1 S. Donald (Paddy Power), 18/1 D. Carter (Stan James), Shane Horgan (bet365), 20/1 James Cowan (Paddy Power), 22/1 Tommy Bowe (bet365), 25/1 BAR.
Race to 10 Points
2/9 New Zealand, 3/1 Ireland, 66/1 Neither team (bet365).