Kick-Off: 0640, 24/06/2017
Stadium: Ajinomoto Stadium
TV: Premier Sports
Ireland showed their strength in depth when beating Japan 50-22 in the first Test and are expected to record another emphatic victory in Saturday’s second encounter.
Despite having 11 players on Lions duty and resting Jamie Heaslip, Rob Kearney and Sean Cronin, Ireland were 31-3 up at the break against the Brave Blossoms.
After the interval, Keith Earls joined Dan Leavy and Jack Conan in completing a brace of tries, while Garry Ringrose also touched down before Japan salvaged some pride with a couple of late scores.
The men in green appear in no mood to rest on their laurels, so 91/100 they win by more than 24 again looks the way to go in the Japan vs Ireland betting odds.
Leinster hooker James Tracy epitomised how a number of Irish players have embraced this tour as the chance to push for places and climb up Joe Schmidt’s pecking order.
The 26-year-old caught the eye when coming off the bench last weekend and said: “I think any competitive person in any environment wants to be playing. If I get the opportunity, I’d love it. It would be an honour to pull on the jersey again.”
Japan weakened further by absentees
Utility back Rory O’Loughlin is another hungry to build on a cameo role after hailing the professional approach of Schmidt.
“You have to learn very quickly and that’s the main thing; to show him that you can adapt to a new way of playing, a new system, and fit in seamlessly,” commented the 23-year-old.
“It’s definitely quite different to the way Leinster play. Certain things in both defence and attack are different so you kind of find yourself in the first few sessions with old habits that I’d be used to from Leinster.
“You have to snap out of that pretty quickly or you’d hear all about it in the review if you keep doing the same thing over and over.”
Japan will be without centre William Tupou for Saturday’s clash after he was handed a three-match ban for a dangerous tackle on Ireland lock Devin Toner during the first Test.
Meanwhile, wing Shota Emi, flanker Hendrik Tui and centre Timothy Lafaele have all withdrawn from Japan’s squad with injuries.
If Ireland can maintain their focus and dominate the set-piece action as they did last weekend, it is hard to see how Japan can close the gap.
Ireland team to face Japan
Andrew Conway; Keith Earls, Garry Ringrose, Luke Marshall, Jacob Stockdale; Paddy Jackson, Kieran Marmion; Cian Healy, James Tracy, John Ryan; Kieran Treadwell, Devin Toner; Rhys Ruddock (c), Josh van der Flier, Jack Conan.
Replacements: Niall Scannell, Dave Kilcoyne, Andrew Porter, James Ryan, Sean Reidy, John Cooney, Rory Scannell, Tiernan O’Halloran.
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