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The Six Nations Championship 2023 crosses the halfway mark this weekend, with Round Three playing out over the next two days. Italy and Ireland will play the first match, in what appears to be a lopsided encounter on paper. The bookies aren’t giving Italy a chance, but can a much improved Azzurri spring something of a surprise in front of their home fans? Will Ireland become complacent after two complete performances so far?
We look at all the best bets to make ahead of kick off in Italy vs Ireland on Saturday afternoon.
Ireland to Win By 11-20
@ 11/2 (6.50)
These odds from Ladbrokes were correct at the time of writing.
Italy vs Ireland – Match Prediction
Here at Pundit Feed, we love our rugby predictions. These are the best two wagers we suggest taking on this match:
Ireland to Win By 11-20 @ 11/4 (3.75)
Bottom line is, Ireland should win this one. They’re the World No.1, have scored 30+ points in both their Six Nations matches this season and won comfortably, and they are the heavy favourites to win the whole competition. Italy, on the other hand, are two losses from two games, and have been wooden spooners 17 out of 23 times in the Six Nations.
However, we don’t think this will be quite the blowout that some are expecting it to be. Italy have their star playmaker back, and Ireland are missing theirs. The Irish have put in two big shifts to beat Wales and France, and could well come into this one a little undercooked. Expect Italy to make this a real contest, with Ireland only pulling away at the end.
Italy/Ireland Halftime/Fulltime @ 11/2 (6.50)
In fact, following our thinking above, we think Italy will be competitive enough to hold a lead at halftime. They’ll come out of the blocks in front of a supportive home crowd, encouraged by competitive performances their last two weeks, and wanting to make a stronger start than they did against England.
With absolutely nothing to lose, there’s a good chance Italy will catch Ireland off guard and be ahead at the break, before running out of steam in the final quarter as they did against France in Round One.
Italy vs Ireland Preview
With these two bets in mind, here’s a brief look at how each team is shaping up:
The home side will be buoyed by the fact that one of their stars, Paolo Garbisi, is returning from injury this week. The young playmaker will slot into the No.10 jersey, after impressing for Montpellier and in training over the past ten days. Garbisi will combine with halfback Stephen Varney in a fiery halves pairing. Expect Italy to be eager to prove the bookies wrong in front of their home crowd on Saturday.
Italy squad: 15 Ange Capuozzo, 14 Edoardo Padovani, 13 Juan Ignacio Brex, 12 Tommaso Menoncello, 11 Pierre Bruno, 10 Paolo Garbisi, 9 Stephen Varney; 8 Lorenzo Cannone, 7 Michele Lamaro (captain), 6 Sebastian Negri, 5 Federico Ruzza, 4 Niccolò Cannone, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Giacomo Nicotera, 1 Danilo Fischetti, 16 Luca Bigi, 17 Federico Zani, 18 Marco Riccioni, 19 Edoardo Iachizzi, 20 Giovanni Pettinelli, 21 Alessandro Fusco, 22 Luca Morisi, 23 Tommaso Allan.
Ireland have named a team with six changes from the side that beat France a fortnight ago. Notably, flyhalf Johnny Sexton has been ruled out of this match with a groin injury, replaced by Ross Byrne. Craig Casey also steps into the halfback position, replacing Connor Murray. How this pairing goes will be keenly watched by the world, as Ireland have two aging incumbents in these positions currently.
Ireland squad: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Mack Hansen, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 James Lowe, 10 Ross Byrne, 9 Craig Casey, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Caelan Doris, 5 James Ryan (captain), 4 Iain Henderson, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Ronan Kelleher, 1 Andrew Porter, 16 Dan Sheehan, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Tom O’Toole, 19 Ryan Baird, 20 Peter O’Mahony, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Jack Crowley, 23 Stuart McCloskey.
Italy vs Ireland Head to Head
Ireland lead the head to head between these two teams by 30-4. Italy’s only win against the men in green within the Six Nations competition came way back in 2013, with Ireland winning every match since then. Their latest meeting was a 57-6 demolition by Ireland in Dublin.
Italy vs Ireland Match Details
- Date and time: Saturday 25th of February at 1:15 PM GMT.
- Venue: Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy.
- How to watch Italy vs Ireland Six Nations in the UK: ITV.