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Ireland vs. Australia Rugby 2013: Prediction, Preview and Key Players

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistNovember 16, 2013

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland drives forward during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand.  (Photo by Sandra Mu/Getty Images)
Sandra Mu/Getty Images

Coming off the back of a respectable pair of wins, both Ireland and Australia have reason to be upbeat about this Saturday's meeting at the Aviva Stadium. 

While Joe Schmidt's side got their November Test series off to a fine start with a 40-9 mauling of Samoa, the Wallabies bounced back from their England defeat with a rousing 50-20 win over Italy.

The task in Dublin could be the toughest that Ewen McKenzie's side have faced yet this autumn, however, and will be a test of both coaches, previously acquainted through their Super Rugby experiences.

Looking ahead to the encounter, read on for a preview of who from each side may have the biggest influence on the outcome, as well as a score prediction.

Date: Saturday, Nov. 16

Time: 5:45 p.m. local time (GMT)/12:45 p.m. ET

Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin

Ireland One to Watch: Eoin Reddan

With Conor Murray sitting on the bench to start, Schmidt has chosen to hand Eoin Reddan the starting place this week following some fine form with Leinster.

Daragh O'Conchuir confirmed the news:

However, the pint-sized half-back has been thrown back into the international mix right at the deep end and goes up against one of, if not the, best scrum-half in the world, Will Genia.

That being the case, Reddan will need his wits about him in order to win his individual battle and deliver the quick ball that Ireland will need if they're to replicate the fast-break rugby that saw England claim a second-half triumph a fortnight ago.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 19: Eoin Reddan of Leinster looks on during the Heineken Cup Final between Leinster and Ulster at Twickenham Stadium on May 19, 2012 in London, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Stu Forster/Getty Images

Ireland's No. 9 will be largely responsible for just how good the ball is his back line receives going forward, but Reddan will also need to pressure his opposite number and impose himself on Genia.

Australia One to Watch: Matt Toomua

Matt Toomua's recent ascendancy through the Australia ranks has been something of a marvel and helped no end by McKenzie's choice to shift the young Brumbies star into the centre.

From there, the 24-year-old has been at his attacking best and when he's not cutting a fine line between opposition defenders himself, he's been putting the ball on a plate for those around him.

Luke Marshall is potentially a weak spot for the hosts' back line and will have a weight of Australian pressure being directed towards him, but caging Toomua will be among Ireland's chief concerns.

Prediction: Ireland 32-22 Australia

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