Padova, a bit of a hidden gem in north Italy! It is a bit warm though!

Although there are substantial changes to the starting line ups from the last meeting between these two teams most of the changes are swapping around squad players and looking at the match day 22’s the changes are slight.

Ireland have two new starts with Ulster’s Finlay Bealham making the bench for his first appearance in JWC 2011 and he’s joined by 19 year old Alex Kelly who also makes his début. With hooker David Doyle moved to wing froward in the starting line up Bealham is in effect replacing Dominic Gallagher and young Kelly comes in for Gilroy who’s in need of a rest after a long, long season.

The Ulster faithful should have no concerns over Gilroy’s loss of form as Nevin Spence went through the same end of season difficulties in last years JWC in Argentina.

South Africa have made four changes to the overall squad with Du Preez, Taute, Mbovane and Wagner all new faces since the last meeting. They still maintain the destructive backbone of Venter, Goosen, Radean,  Botha and Etzebeth who caused te damage against Ireland i the first game.

Ireland have swapped round Henderson, Murphy, Jackson and Marshall to counter this threat and these head to heads are going to decide who wins this game together with Ireland needing to get some form of parity in the line outs. Ireland lost 4 out of 7 of their own throws last time out and this issue needs addressed in the stamina sapping conditions.

I’ve been in Padova for a couple of days now and I must say it is warm and muggy with any exercise at all causing me to sweat profusely! It’s just past 10 in the morning now and it’s already stifling and it will be the same at 8 pm tonight so the heat is going to be a big issue. South Africa are better prepared for the weather, through prolonged exposure, but this is a determined Ireland side who are desperate to make their mark in the competition.

The nature of their defeats against England and South Africa has shown that they have the ability to snatch a win but they lacked execution under pressure.  If they cut out the mistakes and sort out the lineouts they have a realistic chance, but it’s a big ask.

For those of you that are interested in this sort of thing, Padova is a town of approximately 1.5 million about 30 miles west of Venice. The town’s a bit run down but it does have some hidden gems and some stunning architectural attributes with it’s many historic buildings and “old fashioned” but completely original squares or piazza’s.

It’s by no means a tourist resort but that is no bad thing as it has plenty of charms and lots and lots of bars and cafe’s for the discerning punter! If you’re in this part of the world I would recommend it as a day trip at least.