Ireland v Italy – Olympic Stadium
Ignore the 22-16 loss in Rome in 2013 that marked the end of Declan Kidney’s time in charge and this is a fixture that Ireland have dominated since 2000. They’ve won 18/19 games by an average score of 34-13.
Italy coach Jacques Brunel will be gone after the World Cup and the results over the last two years have been poor, with 18 losses in 21 matches by an average score of 13-29. It is almost an opposite situation for Ireland with 17 wins from 21 games at an average score of 28-13.
When the teams met in 2014 – Ireland had approx 75% possession and territory, completed 258 passes and carried 204 times for 699m. This year it was around 63% for possession and territory with 192 passes and 158 runs for 351m. The Azzurri are therefore used to 200+ tackle games when facing this opponent and that trend might continue in this match.
Italy missed 31 tackles against a Canada side that Ireland had dealt with pretty easily and Brunel stated afterwards that if his team played the same way this week it would be a 30 point defeat.
Ireland won the 2nd half by 26-7 against Canada and Romania and traditionally do very well after the break against Italy too. In the last 5 meetings it has been 27-0, 25-0, 9-13 (2013 game), 29-0 and 17-0.
In the last twelve months, Italy have been outscored 2nd half by 10 points against France, 14 against South Africa, 17 against Ireland, 20 against England and France, 25 against Scotland and 40 against Wales. Over the last two years, Italy average a ht score of 7-13 against Six Nations opponents which worsens to 5-20 in the 2nd half.
Ireland are -10.5 on the 2nd half handicap
Ireland: 15 Simon Zebo, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Keith Earls, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Dave Kearney, 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Sean O’Brien, 6 Peter O’Mahony, 5 Paul O’Connell (c), 4 Iain Henderson, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Rory Best, 1 Jack McGrath
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Nathan White, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Chris Henry, 21 Eoin Reddan, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Luke Fitzgerald
Italy: 15 Luke McLean, 14 Leonardo Sarto, 13 Michele Campagnaro, 12 Gonzalo Garcia, 11 Giovanbattista Venditti, 10 Tommaso Allan, 9 Edoardo Gori, 8 Sergio Parisse (c), 7 Simone Favaro, 6 Francesco Minto, 5 Josh Furno, 4 Quintin Geldenhuys, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Andrea Manici, 1 Matias Aguero.
Replacements: 16 Davide Giazzon, 17 Michele Rizzo, 18 Dario Chistolini, 19 Alessandro Zanni, 20 Mauro Bergamasco, 21 Guglielmo Palazzani, 22 Carlo Canna, 23 Tommaso Benvenuti.