Baa-Baas seek redemption against Ireland
May 28, 2012
Ireland travel to Kingsholm on Tuesday night to face the Barbarians who will be smarting from their 57-26 hammering at the hands of England on Sunday.
While the Barbarians' reputation is forged on their easy on the eye brand of attacking rugby, it was fairly absent against England on Sunday as Stuart Lancaster's fresh-faced charges took the shackles off and ran riot against John Kirwan's international select. It will be a very different Barbarians side taking to the field at Kingsholm, however, and they will be seeking to re-assert their status as a ruthless attacking outfit.
Ireland endured a mixed Six Nations with two wins, two losses and a draw to their name but with Stephen Ferris ruled out of the summer tour then Declan Kidney will be forced to give some new blood the nod when they embark on their three-Test summer tour to New Zealand. Tuesday night will give Kidney - in a side void of Leinster players - the chance to survey his options ahead of their matches with the World Cup holders and although the match is on neutral soil, it is a safe bet that the Shed will be in full voice come kick-off.
Barbarians - Player to Watch: He's big, he's powerful and he's immensely skilful. Mamuka Gordogze is a superb player and any lack of bite the Baa-Baas showed on Sunday will be made up for by the Georgian come Tuesday evening.
Barbarians - Team News: There are a host of new faces for the Baa-Baas with Cedric Heymans given the nod at fullback. Paul Sackey keeps his spot on the wing with Sailosi Tagicakibau on the opposite flank. Damien Traille and Mike Tindall line up in the centres with Felipe Contepomi and Rory Lawson at half-back. Duncan Jones, Benoit August and John Afoa form the front-row with captain Mick O'Driscoll and Cornelius van Zyl in the second-row. Georgian behemoth Mamuka Gorgodze starts at blindside with Francois Louw and Raphael Lakafia completing the XV.
Ireland - Player to Watch: Craig Gilroy has been one of Ulster's standout players this term and scored a sensational try against Munster in the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup. If given the ball in space, there are few better in the RaboDirect PRO12 at causing the opposition some headaches.
Ireland - Team News: Ronan O'Gara skippers the side at fly-half and lines up alongside Conor Murray at half-back. Munster team-mate Simon Zebo starts on one wing with Craig Gilroy on the other. Paddy Wallace and Ulster team-mate Darren Cave get the nod in the centres with Keith Earls at fullback. Peter O'Mahony starts at No.8 with Chris Henry and John Muldoon at flanker. Donnacha Ryan and Dan Tuohy get the nod in the second-row with Declan Fitzpatrick, Mike Sherry and Brett Wilkinson in the front-row.
Key Battle: While the Barbarians front-row have 94 international caps between them, Ireland's has none. It is a trio of masters against the apprentices so that area could decide the game.
Trivia: Ronan O'Gara has more caps (121) than the rest of the Ireland XV put together (98).
Stats: The Barbarians have played Ireland four times and are leading the match-ups three wins to one.
Quote Unquote: "I would like to have another chance at Gloucester but that's down to the new coach that comes in. I definitely still want to play but it's about making the right decision." - Barbarians centre Mike Tindall is not ruling out a return to Gloucester despite his contract at Kingsholm coming to an end.
"It's a fantastic place to go as a rugby person, it's a bit sadistic but you couldn't wish for anything else" - Ireland's Declan Kidney ahead of their three-Test tour to New Zealand.
Prediction: The Barbarians will show more backbone than they did against England, but Ireland will sneak the win.
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