Kick-off: 1500, 07/02/2021
Stadium: Principality Stadium
Wales suffered an alarming dip in form during 2020 and begin this year’s Six Nations with plenty to prove when taking on Ireland in Cardiff.
The Dragons slipped from Grand Slam winners in 2019 to a fifth-place finish in this competition and also struggled in the Autumn Nations Cup.
Their opponents were solid in both of those tournaments, so 8/13 for an away win is a percentage pick for our first Wales vs Ireland prediction.
A Look At Wales’ Betting Odds
Wales won just three of their 10 Test matches last year, beating Italy twice and Georgia, as Wayne Pivac struggled to match the success of predecessor Warren Gatland.
“There is plenty to do and improve on,” admitted Pivac. “There is a lot of work going on behind the scenes in terms of our planning and the way we are going to be playing the game in this competition.
“We are definitely looking at the here and now, making sure that we focus on the learnings and get better performances.
“There has been no lack of work ethic. Everyone has rolled their sleeves up and done a great job. It’s a very compatible group.
“Now, it’s just a matter of making sure that we control everything we can control and individuals take responsibility on the playing field and training field.”
Pivac is boosted by having Tomos Williams, Ken Owens and Josh Navidi fit again, while Alun Wyn Jones is on course to recover from a knee injury.
To be fair, Wales were only beaten by margins of 10, four, three and four in last season’s Six Nations losses, so they don’t need to find too much to turn things around.
Even so, we’re sticking with an away win by 1-12 points at 8/5 from the Wales vs Ireland odds.
A Look At Ireland’s Betting Odds
Ireland went into last year’s delayed final round of fixtures with a shot at the title, but slipped to a 35-27 defeat in France, which let England in for top spot.
There was a similar feel to their Autumn Nations Cup campaign, with wins over Wales and Scotland, either side of a loss to England, securing third place.
Andy Farrell has added Ireland great Paul O’Connell to his management team as forwards coach and that should ensure another solid campaign.
Despite playing alongside the majority of the senior members of the current squad, O’Connell insists there will be no favouritism.
“I hope they appreciate how much the job means to me, to be involved in an Irish rugby team, to be involved in selecting Irish players,” said the Munster legend.
“Andy picks the team, but being involved in selection to select Irish players to wear an Irish jersey is a pretty big responsibility for me.
“I just have to be as honest as I can with them and be constructive in my relationships with them and constructive in my feedback with them – and that’s what they want.”
With the winning mentality of Farrell and O’Connell on the sidelines, plus Jonny Sexton as an on-field general, it is hard to see standards slipping.
Irish clubs are dominating their Welsh rivals in this season’s Pro14 competition, so everything points to the visitors prevailing here.
Let’s finish off our Wales vs Ireland betting tips by taking 6/5 for the men in green to lead at half-time and full-time.
WALES 38-18 Italy
IRELAND 31-16 Scotland
Head-to-head: Ireland 32-9 Wales, Ireland 24-14 Wales, Ireland 19-10 Wales, Wales 17-22 Ireland
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