Ireland primed to push on and grab series glory
Free-scoring Israel Folau can finally break shackles though
Sky Sports Action, 11am Saturday
Ireland claimed a first win in Australia for 39 years last Saturday and they should be backed to make it a sensational season by adding the series spoils to their Six Nations Grand Slam with a narrow victory in Sydney.
The Wallabies won the first Test in Brisbane 18-9 but it was a scrappy affair that could have gone either way, especially if CJ Stander had managed to offload during a lung-busting break before being held up over the line, and the visitors kicked on in Melbourne despite losing the try count 3-2.
Joe Schmidt’s side were dominant in the forwards at AAMI Park and with Johnny Sexton restored at fly-half, they were more confident in their tactics and use of territory.
Schmidt has not stood still with his Allianz Stadium selection, with the accent on dynamic ball-carrying in the loose without sacrificing defensive solidity or set-piece strength.
He has reunited his all-Leinster Champions Cup and Pro 14-winning front row of Jack McGrath, Sean Cronin and Tadhg Furlong from the start.
The marauding Jack Conan has been brought in at number eight, with Stander moved to blindside and Peter O’Mahony to openside.
Bundee Aki returns at inside centre and Jacob Stockdale, who scored seven tries in the Six Nations, is back on the left wing with Robbie Henshaw and Keith Earls not inconvenienced by their switches of position.
Australia head coach Michael Chieka has tried to counter Ireland’s breakdown work by shifting David Pocock to number eight and effectively naming three flankers.
However, a creaking pack has often lead to their undoing all over the park in the majority of recent crunch clashes including a 2013 Lions-decider, the 2015 World Cup final against New Zealand and the 2016 home series 3-0 to England.
The Wallabies are also without scrum-half Will Genia who gave their play supreme tempo in the Suncorp success. Stand-in Nick Phipps is no slouch but Genia was looking back to his devilish best before breaking his arm.
Ireland have shut out Israel Folau so far in this series but 2-1 is too big to resist about a 33rd Test try for the free-scoring full-back at his Waratahs second home.
Ireland to win by one to 12 points
2pts 15-8 Betfair
I Folau to score a try
1pt 2-1 Coral, Ladbrokes
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