Preview: Ireland v Russia
WORLD CUP POOL MATCH: Sexton is back. A sexton is a man who sees that a church’s edifice is strong and healthy.
Jonathan Sexton does that for Ireland’s team.
Everybody knows that, regardless of whatever changes are made to the team, Ireland will be a better side than the one which lost to Japan – just because Jonny is back.
Nobody will expect the brave Bears to win.
After all, they lost heavily (14-42) to Connacht in a warm-up match, one of the four proud provinces of Ireland.
They qualified for this World Cup by default really.
Spain, Romania and Belgium were barred from coming on the grounds that they had used ineligible players in the Rugby Europe Championship, and so Russia came as the Europe qualifier for the second time.
This will also be the second time that they will have played Ireland. Their other World Cup was in 2011 and then, too, they were in the same pool as Ireland, and Ireland gave them their heaviest defeat in the pool round – 62-12.
So far this time, the sides have each played two matches.
Ireland smashed Scotland and then lost – sensationally – to Japan.
Russia has lost both of their matches – to Samoa and Japan.
Ireland lost 12-19 to Japan, Russia 10-30.
Andy Farrell believes Ireland can take heart from what happened to England back in 2007.
Defence coach Farrell said there were lessons Ireland could learn from the England team he played for at the 2007 World Cup in France.
England was hammered 36-0 by South Africa in the pool phase only to face the Springboks again in the Final.
“The Japan defeat is a setback, but it’s also something you can use in the right manner,” Farrell said.
“If you look at the last two World Cups, South Africa losing to Japan, then going on to lose the semifinal 18-208 [to New Zealand].
“Then in 2011 France seemed to be in disarray throughout that competition and there’s a debate on whether they should have won the Final [against New Zealand] or not.
“And even in 2007, I was part of the England squad that had a thrashing off South Africa. There was a bit of turmoil in that camp but then we managed to get to the final, and there was some debate about a try that was disallowed.”
‘Prove a point’
Former dual-code international Farrell added: “So you can use these things to your advantage. They are not ideal, but if you use them to your advantage then you can grow.
“After a couple of days, we understand the reasons why we lost, we’re in good spirits, back on track – and ready to prove a point.”
Farrell added Ireland had engaged in Rugby League type training to stay onside against Russia.
This came after head coach Joe Schmidt lamented referee Angus Gardner’s award of several penalties against his side in the Japan match, which tournament chiefs later told him were incorrect.
But Farrell insisted there were improvements Ireland could make themselves.
“If you look at that bonus point at the end with Keith Earls chasing back at the death [against Japan], and the three minutes just before half-time when we kept them out there as well,” he said.
“So there was some heroic stuff from certain lads, but it’s not the usual defensive pressure performance you often see from ourselves.
“The stuff that was going on in and around the breakdown is something we need to take care of ourselves.”
Players to Watch
For Ireland: Sexton and the variety he brings. In fact, the Irish backs have the ability to score lots of tries against Russia. They will be faster, more skilful and more creative. And in the Irish pack, committed action-man Peter O’Mahony is worth watching.
For Russia: Fullback and captain Vasily Artemyev is likely to be their star – and he knows Ireland well. Part of his education was at the famous Blackrock College in Dublin and Dublin University College. He actually played for Ireland in age-group teams. Later he played for Northampton Saints. In 2011, left wing Denis Simplikevich, then 20, scored a try against Ireland. The pack will be strong. Amongst them, No.8 Victor Gresev may well standout.
Prediction: Russia will try bravely but Ireland, smarting to their defeat at the hands of Japan and the rugby world’s reaction to that defeat, will be at their determined best and win by 25 points or more, still hoping to qualify for the quarterfinals.
Ireland: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Keith Earls, 10 Jonathan Sexton (captain), 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Jordi Murphy, 7 Peter O’Mahony, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Jean Kleyn, 4 Tadhg Beirne, 3 John Ryan, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 Dave Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Andrew Porter, 18 Tadhg Furlong, 19 Iain Henderson, 20 Christiaan Stander, 21 Joey Carbery, 22 Jack Carty, 23 Jordan Larmour.
Russia: 15 Vasily Artemyev (captain), 14 German Davydov, 13 Igor Galinovskiy, 12 Kirill Golosnitskiy, 11 Denis Simplikevich, 10 Ramil Gaisin, 9 Dmitry Perov, 8 Victor Gresev, 7 Tagir Gadzhiev, 6 Anton Sychev, 5 Bogdan Fedotko, 4 Andrey Garbuzov, 3 Kirill Gotovtsev, 2 Evgeny Matveev, 1 Andrei Polivalov.
Replacements: 16 Stanislav Selskii, 17 Valery Morozov, 18 Vladimir Podrezov, 19 Andrey Ostrikov, 20 Evgeny Elgin, 21 Sergey Ianiushkin, 22 Roman Khodin, 23 Vladimir Ostroushko.
Date: Thursday, 3 October 2019
Venue: Kobe Misaki Stadium, Kobe City
Kick-off: 19.15 (11.15 UK time, 13.15 Moscow Time, 10.15 GMT)
Expected weather: A bit of cloud and rain late in the day with a high of 29°C, dropping to 20°C.
Referee: Jérôme Garcès (France)
Assistant referees: Mathieu Raynal (France), Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)