Autumn international rugby: Ireland v Australia preview

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt is aiming to claim another southern hemisphere scalp against Australia live on Sky Sports 2

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Ireland v Australia, 4pm Sky Sports 2 (kick-off 4.30pm)

Ireland started the autumn in style with an impressive 29-15 victory over South Africa, followed up last week with a 49-7 drubbing of Georgia.

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Joe Schmidt’s side will be looking to claim another southern hemisphere scalp at the Aviva Stadium tomorrow against an Australia side beaten 29-26 by the French last week.

Rory Best and Gordon D’Arcy return to the fold for Ireland as Schmidt opts for largely the same XV that defeated the Springboks. Ireland will look to attack at set piece time, particularly in the scrum where the Wallabies are far from world class, and will hope that fly-half Johnny Sexton continues his fine form both with ball in hand and the boot.  

New Australia coach Michael Cheika, who in 2009 won the Heineken Cup while head coach at Leinster, is still looking to find his best combinations. Cheika has made four changes from last week as Henry Speight makes his debut on the wing, while Kurtley Beale returns to the squad following yet another off-field incident.

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While, for any of the home nations, victory against a southern hemisphere side is a great result, the real measure of progress is for these victories to become the expectation rather than the exception. Ireland must seize the chance, against an uninspired Australia side, to end their autumn strongly as they look to repeat this year’s dramatic Six Nations win and build momentum for the World Cup, where they are well-placed to top their pool.