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Australia vs Ireland: Leinster stars to help square series

Australia vs Ireland Match Preview and Predictions

Ireland can bounce back from their first Test defeat by squaring the series against Australia on Saturday.

Coach Joe Schmidt paid the price for resting his Leinster players at the weekend as the Wallabies ran out 18-9 winners during a match which saw the return of David Pocock after a self-imposed 18-month hiatus from the international arena.

The 30-year-old flanker was magnificent at the breakdown, made 15 tackles, two clean turnovers and capped a superb display with the winning try in Brisbane.

Pocock was a thorn in Ireland's side throughout the 80 minutes and Schmidt has responded to a first defeat in 13 Test matches by bringing back his big guns for the game in Melbourne, making eight changes in total.

Jonny Sexton is joined by Leinster team-mates Tadhg Furlong, Cian Healy, Devin Toner, Dan Leavy and Garry Ringrose, and the addition of those European championship-winning players will be key to Ireland to setting up a decider in Sydney in a week's time.

Although the first match was a physical affair which will have taken its toll on all the players, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has named an unchanged team for the first time in 46 matches since he took the reigns four years ago.

Defeat at the Suncorp Stadium ended Ireland's two-match winning run against Australia, who only seven months ago were crushed by both England and Scotland.

The first Test was certainly a bruising affair and we think a rejuvenated Ireland team, led by their Leinster contingent, will come out all guns blazing.

Australia captain Michael Hooper also expects a backlash from the tourists when he told reporters: "You've got a bunch of guys who want to come in and make a point.

"No one likes missing out on a game, every player understands teams rotating and wanting to get game time for different players, so, if I was in their shoes, you want to come out and make a difference and I'm sure all their forwards are thinking that way. We expect it to go blow for blow throughout.

"They're such a class team, the Irish, and they'll be fired up. We expect them to bring out some real heat and good firepower throughout the game. We have to be able to weather that and also put ourselves on the field.''

The Irish actually dominated possession last weekend and with Sexton back in the fold as a replacement for Joey Carbery at fly-half, the sole tip in our Australia vs Ireland betting preview is for the tourists to win by between 1-7 points at 14/5.

Australia vs Ireland Betting Tips

Warren Barner
@warren_barner in Rugby Union