Wales will play host to Italy at the Principality Stadium in Round 4 of the 2018 Six Nations.
Wales was very good so far in the tournament, despite losing 2 out of 3 games. The Welsh started off with a marvelous 27 point home win against Scotland, only to lose the next two matches on the road against England and Ireland. However, the Welsh played great and held their own against both these two juggernaut teams, losing 6-12 in England and 27-37 in Ireland. These losses were actually pretty impressive results considering the strength of Ireland and England, and taking into account how difficult it is to play on the road in the Six Nations. Wales also played great rugby in both games, so there is good reason for optimism going forward.
Italy has been the beating horse so far in this tournament, which was no surprise. The Italians are obviously far away from the level of the other 5 teams in the competitions, and this has been going on for 2-3 years now. Italy lost by 31 points against England (home), by 37 against Ireland (away) and by 17 against France (away). They should have lost the last two by more, but scored meaningless tries late in the game.Bet on Wales vs Italy and get your 100% (100 Eur) welcome bonus at Ohmbet now!
Team news & lineups:
Wales will make some tweaks to their usual lineup here, but not wholesale changes, and the starting XV still looks extremely solid – some changes being expected to actually have a positive impact. Italy will make just one change to the lineup that lost by 17 points in France two weeks ago.
Wales: 15 Liam Williams, 14 George North, 13 Owen Watkin, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Steff Evans, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Taulupe Faletau (c), 7 James Davies, 6 Justin Tipuric, 5 Bradley Davies, 4 Cory Hill, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Nicky Smith
Italy: 15 Matteo Minozzi, 14 Tommaso Benvenuti, 13 Giulio Bisegni, 12 Tommaso Castello, 11 Mattia Bellini, 10 Tommaso Allan, 9 Marcello Violi, 8 Sergio Parisse (c), 7 Maxime Mbanda, 6 Sebastian Negri, 5 Dean Budd, 4 Alessandro Zanni, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Andrea Lovotti
Despite losing by big margins in the first three games, the Italians actually failed to cover the spread in all of them. They were very far from covering the spread against England and Ireland, while against France they failed to cover it by only 0.5 points. This indicates that Italy still gets too much credit from the bookies and from the general public in the Six Nations. This has been happening for at least 2-3 years now, as the Italians regularly fail to cover the spread in this tournament.
Fact is that this Italy side simply does not have the talent to compete with the other 5 Nations these days, no matter how much they try. Italy`s domestic club rugby saw a small improvement this year, but that has not translated to the national team.
Today Italy will meet a solid and in form Welsh team which will be out for the kill.
Wales doesn`t have very much left to fight for in this campaign (although they would love to finish second), but their performances have been encouraging to say the least. They weren`t expected to be great in this tournament, but they really looked like their old selves, and only the grueling schedule denied them a shot at the title.
After two narrow defeats away from home against England and Ireland, the Welsh will be eager to bounce back in front of their crazy fans and get a confidence building win to prove their level.
Wales has abused Italy in the last two meetings, 67-14 in Cardiff two years ago and 33-7 in Rome last year (when Wales played poorly, and Italy played well). A 30+ point win should be expected from the Welsh here.
While it`s true that history says Italy always has one big game per tournament, and they are yet to have one this year with two rounds to go, that is only history – and we can`t take that as a palpable argument in their favor. Wales is playing great, they have the motivation to win big in front of their fans after two close losses on the road, and should make light work of an Italian team which is in disarray.
My tip is Wales to cover the 28.5 point handicap. The Welsh scored 27 points in Ireland last week, so they should be able to put at least 45 past this Italian team – which should be enough to cover the spread.
Expect Wales to be more powerful on all fronts here. Prediction: Wales – Italy 53 – 15.