Kick-off: 1500, 24/02/2019
Stadium: Stadio Olimpico
Italy have rewarded those supporting them in handicap markets with a couple of spirited Six Nations displays but may be exposed by a more ruthless Ireland in Rome.
The men in green have romped to victory by margins of 37, 53 and 43 points in the last three head-to-head meetings in this competition.
November’s Chicago international friendly saw the Azzurri thrashed 54-7, so 91/100 for the visitors to prevail by at least 30 points is our opening Italy vs Ireland prediction.
A Look At Italy’s Betting Odds
Italy produced a late rally when losing 33-20 to Scotland in Edinburgh, scoring a trio of consolation tries in the final 10 minutes.
Braam Steyn and Edoardo Padovani then crossed the whitewash in a gutsy 26-15 defeat against Wales on home turf.
However, while the Azzurri were stubborn in defence, that was a stop-start performance by a Wales team showing 10 changes.
Conor O’Shea must now cope without inspirational captain Sergio Parisse, who suffered a suspected concussion playing in France last Saturday.
Forwards coach Giampiero De Carli insisted: “It is clear that we lose one of the strongest number eights in the world, but we have players who are up to the situation that will be able to contribute to the team.”
The steadying influence of their 136-cap talisman will be sorely missed against such tough opponents, though.
Looking at the Italy vs Ireland odds, we also like 3/4 for the visitors to lead by at least 14 points at half-time.
A Look At Ireland’s Betting Odds
After being battered into submission by a physically dominant England in Dublin, Ireland returned to winning ways with a 22-13 success against Scotland at Murrayfield.
That was a controlled performance by Joe Schmidt’s side, with Munster fly-half Joey Carbery doing well following an early injury to Jonny Sexton.
If Ireland are to challenge for a second straight title, though, they will need to pick up a bonus point for scoring four or more tries in this mismatch.
That wasn’t a problem on their last trip to Rome a couple of years ago, when CJ Stander and Craig Gilroy both bagged hat-tricks in a nine-try romp.
Having Kiwi referee Glen Jackson in charge of this contest should ensure an open affair, while a perfect weather forecast is another boost for those wanting to see running rugby.
ITALY 15-26 Wales
Scotland 13-22 IRELAND
Head-to-head: Ireland 54-7 Italy, Ireland 56-19 Italy, Italy 10-63 Ireland, Ireland 58-15 Italy, Ireland 16-9 Italy, Italy 3-26 Ireland
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