Gonzalo Quesada’s side ran England close last weekend in Rome, but can they go one step further against Andy Farrell’s men?
Italy showed no sign of being a team who have only won one Six Nations game in the past decade during their valiant 27-24 loss against England at the Stadio Olimpico last Saturday. But to go one step further this weekend in Dublin is a mighty task, given Ireland’s form following an all-round masterclass in the championship’s opening clash with France. Here are our Ireland v Italy predictions.
That record 38-17 defeat of les Bleus in Marseille earned the men in green plenty of plaudits post-match and has led to speculation it could now be a straightforward road for Andy Farrell’s side, as they bid to become the first side to ever win back-to-back Six Nations Grand Slams.
The Azzurri have had their place in the Six Nations questioned over recent years with calls for the Six Nations to be expanded, or for relegation to be introduced to increase competition.
However, beating Wales 22-21 in 2022 was a breakthrough moment and now under the guidance of Gonzalo Quesada, they look like a threatening package for other northern hemisphere sides. Whether they can pull off a huge upset at the Aviva Stadium remains to be seen.
Ireland v Italy predictions
Alan Dymock: Ireland by 22
The Irish could well wrap up the try bonus in the first half and ease off a little – but I doubt it. So strong is their intent, and so potent their physically efficiency at the moment, that this scoreline could be seen as conservative. Italy started strong against England, but the Irish defensive shape is both established and fierce, and their kicking game is accurate. In short, they’ll get to work pretty sharpish.
Josh Graham: Ireland by 23. Yes, Italy looked good last week but they will be no match for the imperious green machine. There may be plenty of changes but back on soil Ireland will simply have too much firepower for an Azzurri side missing two key back-rowers in Seb Negri and Lorenzo Cannone.
It shouldn’t be hide-behind-the-sofa stuff but it’s not likely to be close.
Oliver Jervis: Ireland by eight. Before last Saturday’s game in Rome, I had this fixture down to be an absolute drubbing for Italy – in a similar fashion to the last few Six Nations meetings between the Azzurri and Ireland in Dublin. Perhaps it says more about my perception of this Italy team than anything else that their ability to threaten Steve Borthwick’s England during that clash surprised me somewhat. Members of Quesada’s starting XV from that match can count themselves unfortunate not to have made Rugby World’s Team of round one, given the healthy level of their performance.
Even while taking such a strong showing into account, the challenge posed by Sunday’s clash with Andy Farrell’s side is undoubtedly near impossible to overcome. Their display in France was world class, and it was hard to discover any chink in their armour throughout that record victory. As such, I can only see them carrying this vicious vein of form into the Aviva this weekend. The Azzurri might frustrate the hosts on occasion during the anticipated on-field battles, but Ireland most certainly will win the war come the full-time whistle.
Kick-off time 3:00pm GMT – Sunday 11 February
TV channel: ITV1 and ITVX – How to watch the Six Nations wherever you are
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Ireland v Italy head-to-head results
2023 Six Nations: Italy 20-34 Ireland
2022 Six Nations: Ireland 57-6 Italy
2021 Six Nations: Italy 10-48 Ireland
2020 Six Nations: Ireland 50-17 Italy
2019 Six Nations: Italy 16-26 Ireland
Ireland v Italy team news
IRELAND: Hugo Keenan; Calvin Nash, Robbie Henshaw, Stuart McCloskey, James Lowe; Jack Crowley, Craig Casey, Andrew Porter, Dan Sheehan, Finlay Bealham, Joe McCarthy, James Ryan, Ryan Baird, Caelan Doris (capt), Jack Conan.
Replacements: Ronan Kelleher, Jeremy Loughman, Tom O’Toole, Iain Henderson, Josh van der Flier, Jamison Gibson-Park, Harry Byrne, Jordan Larmour
ITALY: Ange Capuozzo; Lorenzo Pani, Juan Ignacio Brex, Tommaso Menoncello, Montanna Ioane; Paolo Garbisi, Stephen Varney; Danilo Fischetti, Gianmarco Lucchesi, Pietro Ceccarelli, Niccolo Cannone, Federico Ruzza, Alessandro Izekor, Manuel Zulani, Michele Lamaro (capt).
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