RUGBY WORLD CUP 2015
Monday, 5 October 02:45
Ireland continued their impressive start to their campaign against Romania by picking up a second successive a bonus point. After facing two minnows Joe Schmidt knows far greater tasks lie ahead with France lurking in the background, but first of all their attentions must turn to Italy. The Azzurri kept their faint hopes of a quarter-final spot alive by overcoming a brave Canadian effort last weekend. The returning Sergio Parisse will crank up their challenge here but anything other than a second victory over Ireland in this their 20th match-up since 2000 will not be enough.
Ireland’s last four successes against Italy have all covered the current -19.5 pre-match handicap including a 36-6 mauling at this stage four years ago. Their solitary defeat to Italy, since they were introduction to the Six Nations, came recently at the Olimpico Stadium in 2013, after having won the previous 16 encounters.
Prior to this tournament only four of Ireland’s eight wins versus non-pool qualifiers since 2003 have exceeded a margin of 15 points. However, under Schmidt there has been a noticeable improvement – in the last two Six Nations, against stronger opposition, five of Ireland’s eight victories have eclipsed a 21 point difference, culminating in this World Cup where they’ve topped the scoring charts after the opening two rounds.
That result against Canada stopped a poor run of six defeats in a row for Italy. However their recent Six Nations form has been nothing short of abysmal, notching just one win since in their last 10. They were thrashed by at least 23 points in all four of their defeats this year and, going back further, nine of their last 14 defeats have been by at least 20 points. The Azzurri have finished third in their pool in each of the last three World Cups and have failed to get within 25 points of the group qualifiers of four occasions.
Italy lost by 22 points in their World Cup warm-up against France it’s difficult to see how they are going to improve on that against a much stronger looking Irish side. Furthermore, when Italy lose they tend to get thrashed so we’re happy to take Ireland on the handicap here.
- Ireland are the tournament’s top scorers after two rounds
- Five of Ireland’s last eight Six Nations wins were by a margin greater than 21 points
- Ireland have won 18/19 against Italy since 2000
- All six of Italy’s last Six Nations defeats have been by more than 22 points