Venue: Stadio Flaminio, Rome, Date: February 5th, 2011
Coverage: Live on BBC1, Kick Off: 2.30pm
Five times Italy and Ireland have met on the opening weekend of the Six Nations, and five times Ireland have taken maximum points.
Italy are yet to beat Ireland in the Six Nations – they have managed three wins against the Irish in their history – and at 9/2 to beat Ireland, the betting odds would suggest it’s unlikely.
Ireland have been hit by injuries to key players and the 1/8 for them to win seems a little short considering they are without at least four key players.
However Ireland’s record at the Stadio Flaminio is remarkable and points should be expected when the two teams meet on Saturday.
Having won both of their last trips to the Stadio Flaminio by 27 points or more, the 10/11 for Ireland to win with a -12 handicap looks like a steal and punters should be tempted into backing Ireland at 9/4 despite giving Italy a 20-point start.
195 points and 26 tries at the Stadio Flaminio suggests Ireland should be topping the Six Nations table come Saturday night, and punters should fill their boots with the 5/4 for Keith Earls to score a try any time and the 2/1 for Luke Fitzgerald to score a try any time.
Debutant Fergus McFadden will be itching to prove he deserves his place on the wing and McFadden is 7/1 to score two or more tries in the match.
Italy shouldn’t be forgotten though and Nick Mallet’s side have performed bravely in the face of defeat in front of their home crowd, amassing 85 points in their home games with Ireland.
Mirco Bergamasco is Italy’s danger man and is 5/1 to score a try at any time but that may be the only thing that the Italian fans get to cheer on a weekend where international rugby can provide punters with some incredible betting opportunites.
Ireland: L Fitzgerald, F McFadden, B O’Driscoll (c), G D’Arcy, K Earls, J Sexton, T O’Leary; C Healy, R Best, M Ross, D O’Callaghan, P O’Connell, D Leamy, D Wallace , S O’Brien
Replacements: S Cronin, T Court, L Cullen, S Jennings, E Reddan, R O’Gara, P Wallace
Italy: L McLean; A Masi, G Canale, A Sgarbi, M Bergamasco; K Burton, E Gori; S Perugini, L Ghiraldini, M Castrogiovanni; S Dellape, Q Geldenhuys; J Sole, A Zanni, S Parisse (c)
Replacements: F Ongaro, A Lo Cicero, C del Fava, V Bernabo, P Canavosio, L Orquera, G Garcia
Referee: R Poite
A £25 stake on Ireland (-20) beating Italy would return £81.25. New customers can sign up here for a free bet worth £25.