Ireland will host Italy at Aviva Stadium in the second round of the 2018 Six Nations, and the Irish are rated as 33 point spread favorites by the bookies ahead of this clash.
Ireland entered the tournament ranked third in the world, and rated as the big favorite for the title together with England. They were big favorites to win their opening game in France last weekend, but they had a tougher time than they would have hoped for, needing a last second wonder drop goal from Johnny Sexton in order to escape with a 15-13 win (without scoring any tries). Nevertheless, a win is a win, and Ireland showed character to steal that game, on the road, against an inspired French side.
Italy put on a good showing in the opening round, managing to stay close to England for 60 minutes or so, but they eventually crumbled in the last 15 minutes and ended up losing by 31 points at home. It was yet another humiliation for Italy in the Six Nations, and it came in a similar manner to many of the others, with the Italians unable to compete at the same level for more than an hour. They have now lost 13 consecutive Six Nations matches, and 12 of the last 13 matches overall.Bet on Ireland v Italy and get your 100% (100 Eur) welcome bonus at Ohmbet now!
Team news & lineups:
Ireland will make 4 changes to the lineup that won in France, while Italy will change three players from the lineup that lost to England.
Ireland: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Keith Earls, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Dan Leavy, 6 Peter O’Mahony, 5 Devin Toner, 4 Iain Henderson, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Rory Best (c), 1 Jack McGrath
Italy: 15 Matteo Minozzi, 14 Tommaso Benvenuti, 13 Tommaso Boni, 12 Tommaso Castello, 11 Mattia Bellini, 10 Tommaso Allan, 9 Marcello Violi, 8 Sergio Parisse (c), 7 Braam Steyn, 6 Sebastien Negri, 5 Dean Budd, 4 Alessandro Zanni, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Luca Bigi, 1 Nicola Quaglio
Ireland has disintegrated Italy in the last two meetings, winning by 53 points last season in Rome and by 43 points two seasons ago in Dublin. The Irish will surely fancy their chances to record a similar scoreline this year.
Listen, Italy did look pretty good for much of that game against England last week, but what matters is the result – and in the end they did lose by 31 points at home. You can always find positives in a performance if you look for them, but fact is Italy is getting blown out regularly by every Top 10 side in the world, and they showed nothing new last week. 15 minutes were enough for England to transform a 10 point game into a 31 point blowout, highlighting again Italy’s poor bench and their inability to sustain a top level of play for an entire match.
Facing Ireland in Dublin will be an impossible challenge for the Italians, and all they can hope for is limiting the scoreline. However, looking at the quality gap between the two teams, and also at the recent results, that seems unlikely.
Ireland will be pumped up after the dramatic win in France and will be eager to pile up the tries after failing to score any in that match. They know anything else other than a bonus point win would be a disaster, so expect them to be aggressive right from the start.
I believe this Irish squad matches up well against Italy, as recent results confirm, so chances are Ireland will cruise here, covering the point spread in the process (although the line is pretty high).
Rain is expected before and maybe during the match, so the Italians will hope that will affect Ireland’s running game a bit. This could be a factor and a slight reason for concern, but on the other hand playing in the rain is second nature for the Irish, so the wet weather should have a very limited impact, particularly if it doesn`t rain during the match (reports suggest it shouldn`t).
My tip is Ireland to cover the 33 point (asian) handicap. Prediction: Ireland – Italy 52 – 6.