The last lap of Ireland's summer tour sees them take on Australia in Perth tomorrow. Can Eddie O'Sullivan's men end their 11-match season on a winning note?
SUMMER TOUR: Saturday, June 24
AUSTRALIA v IRELAND, Subiaco Oval, Perth, 11.00am Irish time
- live Sky Sports 2/RTE Radio 1 -
After five wins and five defeats, Ireland's Test season comes to a close at the Subiaco Oval this weekend. Australia, under new coach John Connolly, provide the opposition and the hosts are in excellent form if their recent Cook Cup series triumph over England is anything to go by.
Ireland took much encouragement from their two Tests against New Zealand, but crucially, a first win against the All Blacks was not garnered. But fighting fit and boasting a consistent selection, O'Sullivan's charges are now eyeing up a first win against the Wallabies on Australian soil since 1979. Yes, it was all of 27 years ago that Ollie Campbell struck two drop goals and a penalty to guide Ireland to a 9-3 success in Sydney.
Three years ago at the World Cup, Keith Wood and company went agonisingly close to joining the class of '79, but the Aussies held on to win a tightly-contested pool match 17-16 in Melbourne.
This weekend, Ireland show just one change to side that lost the second Test 27-17 to the All Blacks. Leinster's Girvan Dempsey replaces Geordan Murphy at full-back. On the replacements bench, London Wasps out-half Jeremy Staunton comes in for Denis Hickie.
Coach O'Sullivan rates the Wallabies highly. He said: "They're very impressive. I don't know what the aggregate score was in the two Tests against England but they seem to have hit the ground running.
"I think their back line is firing very well. That's two hefty wins over England - they've got to be happy where they are at the moment."
Australian boss Connolly has made three changes to his starting line-up for tomorrow's clash. Team captain George Gregan, the world's most-capped player with 120 caps, returns at scrum half with Sam Cordingley dropping to the bench.
In the pack, Tai McIsaac and Guy Shepherdson come in for injured duo Adam Freier and Rodney Blake in the front row. Brumbies prop Shepherdson will be making his first start in the gold jersey.
Australia are the current holders of the Lansdowne Cup - which is competed for between the two countries - thanks to their 30-14 victory at Lansdowne Road last November. Tomorrow is the 25th meeting between the two with 17 wins to the Wallabies, and seven for the Irish.
So is a much-prized win a possibility for Ireland? O'Sullivan added: "This week's another opportunity for us. I just say to the lads, keep delivering the big performances on the big days and you'll get wins eventually.
"I'd like to win on Saturday but if we don't, I'm not going to say that the tour was a waste of time (after three defeats). Far from it, I think it's been a very proactive tour and the players have got a lot out of it. It have been a great experience too."
Ireland's last win against Australia came in November 2002 when out-half Ronan O'Gara kicked six penalties for a 18-9 success in Dublin. You can keep up to date with how the Test match progressing by logging onto www.IrishRugby.ie and following our live match tracker from 10.30am onwards.
AUSTRALIA: Chris Latham; Mark Gerrard, Stirling Mortlock, Mat Rogers, Lote Tuqiri; Stephen Larkham, George Gregan (capt); Greg Holmes, Tai McIsaac, Guy Shepherdson, Nathan Sharpe, Dan Vickerman, Mark Chisolm, George Smith, Rocky Elsom.
Replacements: Jeremy Paul, Al Baxter, Wycliff Palu, Phil Waugh, Sam Cordingley, Clyde Rathbone, Cameron Shepherd.
IRELAND: Girvan Dempsey; Shane Horgan, Brian O'Driscoll (capt), Gordon D'Arcy, Andrew Trimble; Ronan O'Gara, Peter Stringer; Marcus Horan, Jerry Flannery, John Hayes, Donncha O'Callaghan, Paul O'Connell, Neil Best, David Wallace, Denis Leamy.
Replacements: Rory Best, Bryan Young, Mick O'Driscoll, Keith Gleeson, Isaac Boss, Jeremy Staunton, Geordan Murphy.
Referee: Kelvin Deaker (New Zealand)
Touch Judges: Steve Walsh, Bryce Lawrence (New Zealand)