Rugby Union: Irish face mission impossible

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The Independent Online
IRELAND'S best ally in tomorrow's first Test against Australia here is the almost inevitable suspicion among their opponents that they do not have a great deal to beat.

Their tour so far has been characterised by embarrassingly one-sided defeats at the hands of New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and Australia B.

Apart from an easy pipe-opener in Western Australia, the only exception to that depressing pattern has been a highly creditable performance against Queensland, when only a Michael Lynagh penalty in added time denied the Irish a deserved draw. It is that isolated display and the fact that Ireland will field a similar side at Ballymore tomorrow that enables the Wallaby coach, Bob Dwyer, to warn his men to expect the unexpected.

The one player missing from the Test side who played in Queensland is the lock forward, Gabriel Fulcher, who loses his chance of a first cap through injury, leaving the way open for the more experienced Mick Galwey. There are still four new caps - the outside centre, Jonathan Bell, the winger, Niall Woods, the wing forward, David Corkery, and hooker Keith Woods.

AUSTRALIA: M Pini; D Smith, M Burke, M O'Connor, D Campese; M Lynagh (capt), P Slattery; T Daly, P Kearns, E McKenzie, J Eales, G Morgan, D Wilson, I Tabua, T Gavin.

IRELAND: C O'Shea (Landsowne); S Geoghegan (London Irish), J Bell (Loughborough and Ballymena), P Danaher (Garryowen), N Woods (Blackrock College); E Elwood (Lansdowne), M Bradley (Cork Constitution, capt); P Clohessy (Young Munster), K Wood (Garryowen), J Fitzgerald (Young Munster), N Francis (Old Belvedere), M Galway (Shannon), D Corkery (Cork Constitution), B Robinson (Ballymena), P Johns (Dungannon).