Kick-off: 1415, 11/03/2023
Stadium: Stadio Olimpico
The penultimate round of this year’s Six Nations fixtures starts out with a wooden spoon battle between Italy and Wales.
Both teams have suffered three defeats so far, with the Azzurri just ahead thanks to picking up a solitary bonus point.
In terms of performance levels, though, Italy have been far superior and shown many more encouraging signs.
Add on home advantage and Kieran Crowley’s side appeal at Evens for our first Italy vs Wales prediction.
Azzurri must build on brave defeats
Italy have finished bottom of the table for the past seven years but we feel they deserve to buck that trend this term.
The Azzurri kicked off by pushing defending champions France close at Olimpico, only going down 29-24 as they pressed for victory late on.
Their first-half performance against England at Twickenham was poor but winning the second period 14-12 provided some consolation in that 31-14 loss.
Title favourites Ireland were expected to prove too strong here a fortnight ago but Italy were bang in contention with an hour gone, before ultimately losing 34-20.
Ireland head coach Andy Farrell admitted: “It was a proper Test match. You know when they get the field position that they’re craving that they’re going to be unbelievably dangerous.”
Kiwi Crowley countered: “We don’t want to become a team that gets pats on the back because we’re playing well and showing good style – we want to get over the line.”
If able to remain composed in pressure situations and be a bit more clinical close to the try line, this is their big chance to do just that.
The Azzurri ended a run of 16 straight losses to Wales when prevailing 22-21 in Cardiff last year and are rated a form pick to oblige again.
Looking at the 15/8 for a home win by 1-12 points.
Wales in crisis on and off the pitch
It is 20 years since Wales last finished bottom of the Six Nations table, but that embarrassing fate now looms large.
Warren Gatland’s team will finish off their campaign with a trip to Paris, so the pressure is on to get a positive result in Rome.
The 2019 and 2021 champions are reeling from three disappointing defeats, with 89 points, 12 tries and 44 penalties conceded.
In hindsight, the writing was on the wall following an opening 34-10 thumping by Ireland on home turf.
That was followed by a dire 35-7 defeat away to Scotland and then came off-field issues over contract disputes.
Wales put off talk of a strike to give England a decent test in a 20-10 Cardiff loss, but the overall quality of that contest was poor.
“It is just unfortunate and the situation we are all in at the moment is not great for anyone involved,” said number eight Taulupe Faletau, who is set to win his 99th cap.
“It’s just a tough time we are stuck in at the moment. You are always going to try to put your best foot forward, but when things aren’t going well off the pitch, it’s hard to give your all then.
“In rugby, we are all a family and are in it together at the end of the day. It is a tough period to see people struggling.”
Sports professionals are usually resilient under duress, but this current situation has clearly taken a toll on Wales.
For those wanting a bit more value, 5/1 for a home win by 6-10 points is added to our Italy vs Wales betting tips.
ITALY 20-34 Ireland
WALES 10-20 England
Head-to-head: Wales 21-22 Italy, Italy 7-48 Wales, Wales 38-18 Italy, Wales 42-0 Italy
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