Rugby World Cup Pool D: Ireland to beat Azzurri and advance
Italy have upset Ireland just once since joining the British Isles quartet and France to form the Six Nations in 2000, and Coral offer the Azzurri little hope of repeating that in Rugby World Cup Pool D.
Starting as massive 14/1 match outsiders, the Italians face elimination if they lose. While the Azzurri can finally field captain and 3/1 anytime tryscorer chance Sergio Parisse, his leadership is likely to prove fruitless against Joe Schmidt’s side.
Having steered Ireland to successive Six Nations titles, the Kiwi coach sees his charges overwhelmingly odds-on at 1/20 to get the victory they need to reach the quarter-finals with a match to spare.
In both of Schmidt’s matches in charge against Italy, and all four Irish wins over Italy from the 2011 Rugby World Cup onwards, they have covered the handicap, which is set at 22 points for an even-money return here.
While that has been a market we have advised punters against investing in for encounters this past midweek, Ireland look capable of delivering such a margin of victory again – especially when you look at the changes Schmidt has made for this match.
Skipper Paul O’Connell and hooker Rory Best are among 11 returning, with Irish intent clear; Schmidt wants the France fixture to just be about avoiding New Zealand in the quarter-finals.
Tommy Bowe and Keith Earls, who moves to outside centre for this Azzurri encounter, both bagged braces by going over twice against Romania last time out. It’s 11/4 for winger Bowe, who has scored tries against Italy before, to repeat or better two tries here. Earls, meanwhile, features in an 11/8 wincast where he needs to cross again in an Ireland victory.
Robbie Henshaw takes part for the first time in this tournament after injury at inside centre, but could be lacking full match fitness after a hamstring problem. Usual winger Simon Zebo moves to full back.
Against an ageing Italian outfit, anything less than a margin of victory between 21 and 25 points will be blow par from Schmidt’s side. For that bracket to be the correct difference between Ireland and the Azzurri, take nifty 9/2 odds.
Coral’s top tip: An Irish win in the region of 21-25 points could really pay off for punters that terrific price.