2017 Rugby League World Cup - Wales vs Ireland Match Preview

9th Nov 2017 by TSZ

The Lowdown

WALES

  • Wales fell to their heaviest ever World Cup defeat just a week after previously setting the unwanted record. Fiji ran in 14 tries as the Welsh fell to a 72-6 loss. 
  • Head Coach John Kear has again made various changes to his squad ahead of the game but has hinted the side he has named could change with the reserves in the 21-man squad still in with a chance of playing.  
  • Wales have only scored twice in this tournament whilst they have conceded 122 points, just two points less than Scotland who have conceded the most. 

Head Coach: John Kear

Team: Kear; Grace, Channing, Grant, Williams; Davies, Ansell; Kopczak, Fozard, Joseph, Lloyd, Burke, Knowles

Bench: Parry, Bennion, Evans, Morris

IRELAND

  • Ireland narrowly lost out to Papua New Guinea last week to leave their quarter-final hopes hanging by a thread. They need to beat Wales, hope PNG lose to USA and must almost overturn a 36 point deficit in terms of points difference.             
  • Mark Aston has rotated his side and given a chance to halfback Joe Keyes with Api Pewhairangi reverting to the centres in place of Ryan Morgan. Will Hope and Matty Hadden are also given a chance in place of Tyrone McCarthy and James Hasson.
  • Despite losing five of their last six World Cup matches, Ireland have performed admirably in this tournament and currently lead the way with the most tackles made as a team with 670 in their two games.  

Head Coach: Mark Aston

Team: Grix; McDonnell, Chamberlain, Pewhairangi, Kay; Keyes, Finn; Mullally, McIlorum, Amor, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Hope, Singleton

Bench: King, Hadden, Philbin, Roberts

Analysis - what to expect                
Before the start of the tournament, this game was slated as a dead-rubber with neither side likely having anything to play for. Whilst that is true of Wales who have been on the end of two drubbings, Ireland still have a chance of qualifying for the quarter-final. Although it's a slim chance, it's testament to how well they have performed that they not already eliminated heading into their final group game. Wales have conceded an average of eight tries a game in their last five World Cup games and it wouldn't be a surprise if that average was maintained as Ireland look to end their campaign in style, although it won't be enough to qualify with PNG likely winners against USA.

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