Rugby World Cup: Ireland v Italy Preview

Written by Darry Worthington for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!


Ireland v Italy | Sunday 4 October | The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park London | 17:45

Another all Six Nations clash will take place on Sunday when the tournament winners, Ireland, take on the fifth-placed finishers Italy. The Irish are sitting quite comfortably atop the pool D log. They're a point ahead of second-placed France and four points ahead of this weekend’s opposition. A win for the men from ‘The Emerald Isle' will all but secure their qualification for the quarter-finals.

With the Irish looking for a bonus point victory in an effort to increase their chances of finishing in top spot, they will be looking to implement an attacking game plan. With this in mind, there is a fantastic opportunity to make some money off the Irish passing a few margins.

To Win (80 Mins)
Ireland  1/8
Draw  30/1
Italy  5/1

Handicaps
Ireland  (-15.5) 9/10
Italy  (+15.5) 9/10

Ireland 

Things look to be going according to script for Joe Schmidt and his charges. They opened their
tournament with a 43 point victory over the Canadians, they then went on to defeat the Romanians by 34 points seven days later.  Those two bonus point victories have seen Schmidt’s men ascend to the top of the log ahead of the French. While holding a point lead is all well and good, the Irish are going to have to defeat the French next week if they are to finish the group stage at the summit of pool D.

With this in mind, Schmidt may look to rotate his side. Flanker Chris Henry could be drafted into the side. Another man who could appear in the starting XV is Rob Kearney. The fullback put in an impressive, if short, shift against the Romanians last week. With Simon Zebo having left the camp for few days due to a family bereavement, the Irish mentor may look to give Zebo a weekend off.
The last time the two sides met in World Cup action was at the 2011 showpiece, where Ireland ran out 36 to 6 victors. The Irish were ten points shy of that mark when they met the Italians in the Six Nations earlier this year, with the game ending 26-3.




Italy 

The Azzuri were given a scare from the Canadians last Saturday. The Canucks, took the lead shortly after the halftime break at Elland road. The Italians, however, restored parity to proceedings with a well-worked line out move that resulted in a try. They were forced to hold onto their slender lead, as the Canadians continued to threaten their goal line. The Italians managed to hold off the Canadians to win the game by a narrow five-point margin. The win has seen Italy move up to third spot on the pool D, five points behind the second placed French. It’s do or die time for Jaques Brunel’s charges, who need to beat the Irish to keep their hopes of quarter-final qualification alive.

The Italians were handed a boost with talismanic skipper, Sergio Parisse, returning to training this week. The talented number eight is yet to take to the field at this year’s tournament. Although he faces a late fitness test, Jaques Brunel is confident that his captain will play some role in Saturday's clash. Parisse is not the only veteran who could return to the starting XV for this match up. Mauro Bergamasco’s impressive performance off the bench against Canada may see the veteran included in the run out fifteen.

As was the case against France, the Italians know it is going to be a big ask for them to get anything from this game. Their task will be made a bit easier if Parisse is able to take to the field on Saturday.

Verdict: Ireland (-15.5) 9/10
The Italians have only won a solitary game out of the last ten matches played between the two sides. That run should be extended to one out of eleven when the final whistle goes at the Olympic Park Stadium.

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