Munster v Australia, Thomond Park, November 16
Wallabies look to bounce back
November 15, 2010
Wallabies coach Robbie Deans must lift his side following their 35-18 loss to England last weekend © Getty Images
Australia will be looking to erase the memory of their recent mauling at the hands of England when they tackle Munster at Thomond Park on Tuesday night.
The Wallabies were beaten at their own game by a rampant England side last time out with the hosts claiming a well-deserved 35-18 victory at Twickenham. The result brought the tourists back down to earth following victories over New Zealand and Wales in recent weeks. The midweek Wallabies also got in on the act with a victory over Leicester at Welford Road last week and it falls to them to breathe life back into the tour.
However, standing in their way is a strong Munster side who are currently on top of the Magners League table and top of their pool in this season's Heineken Cup. The proud Irish province also pushed the All Blacks to the brink in a similar victory two years ago with the tourists edging a thrilling contest 18-16 thanks a Joe Rokocoko score at the death.
Munster - Player to Watch: Outside centre Keith Earls has seen precious little time for Ireland in the last couple of weeks and will no doubt relish the opportunity to offer a reminder of his class in such a high-profile game.
Munster - Team News: James Coughlan will lead a Munster side that includes Earls, Johne Murphy and Damien Varley, who have all been released by Ireland. The front row also includes new recruit Peter Borlase while Sam Tuitupou returns to the backline after a three week suspension.
Australia - Player to Watch: With James O'Connor ruled out of the match against Italy at the weekend this game represents a great opportunity for 'Rocket' Rod Davies has a great chance to push for his first Test cap.
Australia - Team News: Australia boss Robbie Deans has made four changes to his midweek side that see Reds prop Ben Daley join franchise team-mate Saia Faingaa in the front-row while Waratahs lock Dean Mumm replaces Van Humphries in the second-row. Lachie Turner shifts to fullback in place of Peter Hynes, who drops to the bench, while Reds wing Luke Morahan is drafted into the back-three.
Key Battle: The battle of the breakdown looms a pivotal aspect to this game - step forward Munster's Couglan and his team-mates Peter O'Mahony, Niall Ronan and their Australian rivals Scott Higginbotham, Matt Hodgson and Richard Brown. If the Wallabies are to return to winning ways then superiority here is the first step to redemption.
Trivia: Wallabies assistant Jim Williams is a former Munster captain and coach and shared in two Heineken Cup triumphs during his stint with the side between 2001 and 2008.
Stats: Munster became the first Irish team to beat a major touring side when they knocked off Australia in 1967, and repeated the dose in 1981 and, last time around, in '92.
If we are to stand any chance of beating Australia we have to play for the full 80 minutes and not pull up after 78 minutes like we did two years ago. That was heart-breaking." - Munster's Billy Holland issues a reminder of that agonising loss to the All Blacks in 2008.
"I haven't been there yet. I've only seen it on telly. It'll be great to get out there and actually see it, and to get out on the pitch again." - Wallabies assistant coach Jim Williams looks forward to returning to a new-look Thomond Park
Prediction: Make no mistake Munster will be up for this one and sniffing another famous scalp. The Wallabies are wobbling but their second string still boasts enough quality to trouble the hosts. But when you add the Thomond Park crowd and their ability to inspire great things into the equation you sense that Munster will claim a famous triumph.
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