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banner Friday, 3 November, 2000, 17:24 GMT
Ireland cautious ahead of Maori clash
Tommy Martyn
Tommy Martyn has impressed in the tournament
Ireland's superior points difference means it would need a freak set of results in this weekend's Group 4 games to prevent them earning one of the two qualifying spots.

However, the Irish are sounding a cautious note ahead of their clash with New Zealand Maori on Saturday at Tolka Park in Dublin.

The Irish hope to start their final group match with the same 13 that began Wednesday's victory over Scotland.

However St Helens stand-off Tommy Martyn and Castleford centre Michael Eager will both face late fitness tests after being injured against Scotland.

Impressive partnership

Martyn, who has formed an impressive half-back partnership with Ryan Sheridan, is the more doubtful and has been receiving physiotherapy for back and leg injuries.

Eager has a hamstring strain.

Despite their last minute defeat at the hands of Samoa, the Maori still have the opportunity to win the group.

To do that they will have to beat Ireland by a handsome margin and hope Scotland defeat Samoa.

Agonising defeat

The Maori's agonising defeat by Samoa in midweek threw the group wide open leaving all four teams with a mathematical chance of qualifying.

Both sides will be hoping to improve on their Wednesday performances.

Tommy Martyn
Martyn sustained the injury against Scotland

Ireland were very disappointed with many aspects of their play and had to rely on individual flashes of brilliance to win the match.

If the Irish can combine the positive aspects of their two games then they may go some way to justifying the group favourites tag acquired before the tournament began.

Expects backlash

The Maori have yet to show their full ability in the tournament.

Manager Cameron Bell rested a number of players on Wednesday and that may have cost them two points.

However, it has always been the Maori coach¿s wish to keep his strongest side for this game.

Ireland prop Barrie McDermott has warned his teammates to expect a backlash from the Maori.

Class outfit

"The Maori defeat against Samoa was very much a surprise.

"When their squad was announced I thought they were a really class outfit with three or four guys very unlucky to miss out on the full New Zealand side.

"That defeat is a bad situation for us because they will literally be stung and will be fighting for their World Cup life against us.

Ireland: Prescott (Hull), Carney (Wigan), Eager (Castleford), Herron (Hull), Withers (Bradford), Martyn (St Helens), Sheridan (Leeds), O'Connor (Wigan, capt), Lawless, McDermott (Leeds), Joynt (St Helens), Campion (Brisbane), Ricketson (Sydney City). 031515 NOV 00

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See also:

03 Nov 00 |  Group 4
Scots must raise their game
01 Nov 00 |  Group 4
Ireland too strong for Scotland
29 Oct 00 |  Group 4
Maori edge out unlucky Scots
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