Six Nations: Ireland to win, but side with Italy with a handicap

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Italy may have never beaten Ireland since joining the Six Nations and although they are unlikely to end this streak this year, 11/8 looks decent value that they lose by no more than 12 points.

Ireland are 1/14 to beat Italy and this is understandable, particularly given that they have enjoyed a three-week break from competition since losing to Wales by virtue of a late penalty.

Declan Kidney’s team will have been chomping at the bit since to undo this wrong, but they may struggle to run riot against Italy.

Ireland are one of two teams along with England that Italy have never beaten in the Six Nations, but they must be considered majorly unlucky not to upset the English in their latest outing.

Meanwhile, punters may remember that a late Ronan O’Gara drop goal was needed in last year’s Six Nations to prevent the Irish losing to Italy.

Furthermore, Italy more than matched Ireland in the first half of their 2011 Rugby World Cup clash, before the added attacking class of Kidney’s team eventually shone through.

Italy are 8/1 to win in Ireland and not only will they take confidence from their losing display against England, but also from the fact that Ireland have won just four of their last ten games.

At home Ireland have been especially poor, losing six of their last nine internationals at Lansdowne Road since its redevelopment was completed in 2010.

Much will depend on how the game starts and if Ireland can get some early points on the board, there is the chance they could run up a big score.

Italy are without star prop Martin Castrogiovanni because of a rib injury, while the performance of Tobias Botes, who will start despite his poor kicking when coming on as a replacement against England, could be critical.

If Botes starts badly, Ireland to win with a 16-point handicap to make up at 1/1 could be worth taking, along with the 15/8 that they overcome a 22-point deficit.

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.