OUR resident rugby boff Russ Petty (@RPetty80) nailed the Saturday double. Now he’s set his sights on Ireland’s crucial Pool D clash with Italy.
Ireland v Italy | Sunday 16.45 | ITV1
Ireland have won 18 of their 19 matches against Italy in the Six Nations era with the exception being a 22-16 loss in 2013 at the end of Declan Kidney’s tenure. The Azzurri finished above both Ireland and France that year, but it has been a grim slide to mediocrity since.
Jacques Brunel’s team have lost 18 of 21 games since 2014 by an average score of 13-29, while it is almost the complete opposite for Ireland in the same period – 17 victories from 21 matches by an average score of 28-13.
In the previous two meetings in this fixture, Italy had to make a sapping 245 and 198 tackles and given how Ireland have started this tournament it could be a similar number this time. Against Canada, Ireland kicked 43 times, passed 212 and had 147 carries. In the Romania win it was 36 kicks, 225 passes and 148 runs.
Ireland won the second-half by a margin of 26-7 in both those pool games and I am happy enough to back them again after the break in this contest. Ignore the blip in 2013 and Ireland have outscored this opponent by 27-0, 25-0, 29-0 and 17-0 in recent meetings.
That type of second-half score isn’t uncommon for Italy; it was 14-0 in the final 40 minutes against South Africa, 32-12 against England, 20-0 against France, 47-7 against Wales, 25-0 against Scotland in the last year.
Ireland v Italy – Ireland -10.5 second-half handicap (10/11 Paddy Power)
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