Darry Worthington previews the 2020 Round 4 Six Nations game between Ireland and Italy which is being played at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday the 24th of October.
Image copyright – Steve Haag Sports
After seven months of waiting, the 2020 Six Nations will finally resume. The tournament was put on hold back in March due to the onslaught of COVID-19 throughout Europe. While most of the teams got through their Round 4 games, Ireland and Italy had theirs called off at the last minute.
The two sides will now lock horns in this week’s solitary fixture before the tournament comes to a close with a full set of Round 5 fixtures the following weekend.
Ireland v Italy
Saturday 24 October
To Win (80 Mins)
Ireland 9/10 (-28.5)
Italy 9/10 (+28.5)
The hosts for this weekend will be looking for a bonus-point win that would see them move to the top of the Six Nations standings.
The men from the ‘Emerald Isle’ enjoyed a decent enough campaign before the COVID-19 delay as they
won two of their three fixtures with the victories coming against Scotland (19-12) and Wales (24-14), while their defeat came at the hands of their old enemy England (24-12).
They currently sit fourth on the log with nine points to their names but a bonus-point win would see them leapfrog England into pole position. A bonus point here is vital for the Irish as they have a tough away fixture against France in the final round.
In terms of team news, Ireland will be without fullbacks Rob Kearney and Jordan Larmour, with the former having retired and the latter sustaining a serious injury during Leinster’s PRO14 campaign.
The Italians will have welcomed the COVID-19 break as they were enduring yet another poor old season having suffered three defeats from their three games. They have also conceded a rather large amount of points thus far shipping 42 against Wales, 35 against France and 17 against Scotland. To make matters worse for the Azzurri, they have only managed to score 22 points in those three games with all of those points coming against Franc in Round 2.
The recent head-to-head clashes don’t make for good reading if you’re an Italian fine as the three of the last five games between the sides by more than 36 points. They have fared slightly better over the past two years, however, going down by 10 points when the two sides met in the 2019 Six Nations and by 19 points in a World Cup warm-up fixture.
Verdict: Italy 9/10 (+28.5)
While both sets of players have a decent amount of PRO14 games under their belts, I feel there may well be some ring rust on display this Saturday. As such, I reckon the sensible move is to back the Italians on what is a rather large plus handicap.