Preview: Ireland Vs South Africa

Predictions, Talking Points and much more from Munster Haka

Simon Zebo takes on JP Pietersen as Chris Henry watches on.

Talking Points:

  • Will Ireland try to match the Springbok’s physicality?
  • Has Joe Schmidt taken a risk with his selection?
  • How can Ireland cope without key players?
  • Will new leaders emerge?
  • Can either team build on previous results?

Head to Head:

Ireland: Rob Kearney; Tommy Bowe, Jared Payne, Robbie Henshaw, Simon Zebo; Jonathan Sexton, Conor Murray; Jamie Heaslip, Chris Henry, Peter O’Mahony; Paul O’Connell (captain), Devin Toner; Mike Ross, Sean Cronin, Jack McGrath.

Replacements: Richardt Strauss, Dave Kilcoyne, Rodney Ah You, Mike McCarthy, Rhys Ruddock, Eoin Reddan, Ian Madigan, Felix Jones.

South Africa: Willie le Roux; Cornal Hendricks, Jan Serfontein, Jean de Villiers (captain), Bryan Habana; Handre Pollard, Francois Hougaard; Duane Vermeulen, Teboho Mohoje, Marcell Coetzee; Victor Matfield, Eben Etzebeth; Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira.

Replacements: Adriaan Strauss, Trevor Nyakane, Coenie Oosthuizen, Bakkies Botha, Schalk Burger, Cobus Reinach, Pat Lambie, JP Pietersen.

Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup 2011 - Quarter Final - South Africa v Australia - Wellington Regional Stadium

Key Battles:

Sean Cronin V Bismark Du Plessis 

Leinster hooker Sean Cronin faces a mammoth task if he is to outplay his opposite number tomorrow night. Cronin’s ball carrying, pace and power stand out as his best attributes. However, his set-piece is something that is often criticized.

Du Plessis on the other hand, is often argued to be the world’s greatest hooker. His physicality is greater than his opponents, while his experience and solidarity in the scrum and line out are also qualities of his make him special.

One would expect South Africa’s front row of Tendai Mtawarira, Bismark Du Plessis and Jannie Du Pleesis to take apart a second string Irish frontrow in the scrum but the lineout will be different. Can Sean Cronin supply clean ball for his forwards like his world class opponent? What team will win the battle in that department? Here are two men that can decide who:

Paul O’Connell V Victor Matfield 

The Key Battle of the weekend will be between Paul O’Connell and Victor Matfield.

In the second row department, two veterans and legends of the game come up against each other in an extraordinary match up. The two leaders will pull their respective teams together as they try to physically and mentally give the game their best shot in hunt of a result. The importance of each of the two men is to such an extent that a result could be determined depending on who wins the battle on the night.

Robbie Henshaw V Jean De Villiers 

Springbok captain and former Munster centre Jean De Villiers plays his 103rd game on the night while primary fullback Jared Payne makes no less than his international debut on the big stage for Ireland. To help the New Zealand born Ulsterman, every rugby fan expected to see veteran Gordon D’arcy inside him. However, in a shock move Ireland Head Coach Joe Schmidt named youngster Robbie Henshaw at 12 who will make only his 2nd start in the green shirt, the first against USA at the tender age of 19 last year.

Many will agree that only an ingenious inspired performance from the green centres would result in a win over Jan Serfontein and De Villiers in this key battle but something makes us quietly confident. Henshaw is the form centre in the country at the minute and not only does his pace, physicality and imagination make up for his youth but he has a confident Kiwi outside him who can take care of the link up play with the wingers to back him up. Up against Jean De Villiers, players can be intimidated by the Springbok’s physicality and intelligence but Schmidt has taken a risk for a reason. Robbie Henshaw, unlike D’arcy can bring an unpredictably, step and edge to the game around his opposite 12.


Only an unlikely All Black-esque performance from Ireland could grasp them a win over the far superior side on paper.Irish injuries and Springbok strength should determine the result.

-Admin Ronan

Munster Haka


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