To be the best you’ve got to beat the best. And that’s exactly what Ireland will have to do on Saturday if they’re to keep their hopes of winning the 2019 Rugby World Cup alive.
Joe Schmidt’s side face 5/4 tournament favourites New Zealand in Tokyo with a place in the semi finals up for grabs.
Back to number one in the world the All Blacks have hardly been tested in their three Pool games. They put in a solid display against South Africa during their opening Pool B game before dispatching both Canada and Namibia with ease, as you’d expect.
In truth this isn’t the best New Zealand team the world has ever seen, but if they perform like they can then they’ll be nailed on to make it three World Cup titles in a row. Effort.
Ireland, meanwhile, plodded their way through Pool A and had to settle for second place after losing to hosts Japan In one of the standout games of the tournament.
For all their problems, Ireland are well accustomed to the taste of victory over the All Blacks. Beating them twice in their last three encounters. Most recently in 2018 with a 16-9 victory. They’re 5/1 to win be 1-10 points.
On his day Beauden Barrett is by far the best player in the world, he just doesn’t have those days often enough. If he turns up on Saturday, though, then there’ll only be one winner. He’s 10/1 to score the first try.
For Ireland to have any chance Conor Murray and Sexton must deliver. They make the Irish tick and they’re 9/2 to reach the semi-finals with a victory in 80 minutes. The All Blacks are as short as 2/9. Anyone for an upset?