Kangaroos Tune Up For Finals

Image courtesy of theaustralian.com.au/News Limited
Daly Cherry-Evans will start at five-eighth against Ireland. Image courtesy of theaustralian.com.au/News Limited
Australia continues its tune up for the business end of the Rugby League World Cup when it takes on the weakest team in its group, Ireland , on Sunday morning (AEST). It’s the first meeting between the countries in rugby league and it’s an intimidating way for the Irish to finish what has been a disappointing tournament to date. In 2008, Ireland progressed from its group after beating Samoa and going within two of beating Tonga, before losing in the semi-final qualifier 30-14 to Fiji. This time around the men from the Emerald Isle went down to the Bati by almost the same score – 32-14 this time – and were drubbed by England 42-0 last week in Huddersfield.

Tim Sheens will hope his seventeen gets through this final group match unscathed after he lost Luke Lewis for the rest of the tournament with a serious shoulder injury in the 34-2 win over Fiji last weekend. Lewis collided with an advertising hoarding as he chased a loose ball in-goal. The Kangaroos have made seven changes to that side with Daly Cherry-Evans getting a crack in the No. 6 jersey alongside Cooper Cronk in the halves. Sheens has the Manly half and Tigers hooker Robbie Farah battling for a position on the bench in Australia’s best 17, so this match is crucial for both players. Boyd Cordner gets his chance to push for Lewis’s spot in the forward rotation for the Kangaroos’ push to the grand final.

Ireland has some NRL talent with the likes of Brett White , Pat Richards and Rory Kostjasyn turning out for their adopted nation. The squad has little to play for apart from pride and coach Mark Aston’s main aim will more than likely be avoiding a very heavy defeat in their final match of the tournament. The Irish have lost 11 of their last 12 internationals, going down to the likes of Lebanon, Scotland, Wales and France along the way. Most of those matches were played without their top level talent, though.

Ireland conceded six tries in the first half against England last weekend before stemming the flow in the second half. It was the same case against Fiji with the Pacific Islanders leading 24-4 at the break with Ireland scoring two late tries to add respectability to the scoreline.

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