2021 Six Nations Championship – Italy vs Ireland Preview & Prediction

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THE FACTS

When is Italy vs Ireland taking place? Saturday 27th February, 2021 – 14:15

Where is Italy vs Ireland taking place? Stadio Olimpico, Rome

Where can I get tickets for Italy vs Ireland? Visit this link for ticket information

What channel is Italy vs Ireland on? ITV

Where can I stream Italy vs Ireland? Italy vs Ireland can be streamed via ITV Player

THE TEAM NEWS

ITALY

  • Italy will have been pleased with plenty of their approach away to England two weeks ago as they lost a 41-18 that hides their occasionally impressive offensive performance against the reigning champions.
  • The Azzurri drew first blood after starting strongly against England, forcing a few loose penalties before scoring the first try of the game via an impressive Monty Ioane just two minutes into the game.
  • Head coach Franco Smith has rewarded his side’s efforts by naming the same starting 15 against Ireland in Rome, though Callum Braley, Mattia Bellini, Maxime Mbanda and Cherif Traore come in to take their places on the bench.

Italy: 15 Jacopo Trulla, 14 Luca Sperandio, 13 Juan Ignacio Brex, 12 Carlo Canna, 11 Montanna Ioane, 10 Paolo Garbisi, 9 Stephen Varney, 8 Michele Lamaro, 7 Johan Meyer, 6 Sebastian Negri, 5 David Sisi, 4 Marco Lazzaroni, 3 Marco Riccioni, 2 Luca Bigi (c), 1 Andrea Lovotti

Replacements: 16 Gianmarco Lucchesi, 17 Cherif Traore’, 18 Giosuè Zilocchi, 19 Niccolò Cannone, 20 Maxime Mbanda’, 21 Callum Braley, 22 Federico Mori, 23 Mattia Bellini

IRELAND

  • Ireland fell to a close 13-15 defeat at home to France to make it two losses from two in the Six Nations Championship and put their chances at winning a first title since 2018 all but nil for another season.
  • Head coach Andy Farrell is under scrutiny now and will be glad to see the return of Johnny Sexton and James Ryan after they missed the defeat to France, though Jacob Stockdale is still out with a knee injury.
  • Farrell has named two uncapped players in his 23 with Craig Casey, making the bench for a second match running, and Ryan Baird both hopeful for their international debuts in this match.

Ireland: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Jordan Larmour, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 James Lowe, 10 Jonathan Sexton (c), 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Will Connors, 6 Tadhg Beirne, 5 James Ryan, 4 Iain Henderson, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Ronan Kelleher, 1 Dave Kilcoyne

Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Andrew Porter, 19 Ryan Baird, 20 Jack Conan, 21 Craig Casey, 22 Billy Burns, 23 Keith Earls

THE PREDICTION

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell desperately needs an impressive performance from his ailing side after two close defeats to Wales and France, the latter of which came at home. It will take more than a win over the Six Nations’ perennial underdogs Italy to change the fortunes of the team and perceptions of the coach in Ireland but it could, nonetheless, set them on a winning run in the tournament to finish in a respectable place. Italy were mightily impressive in patches last time out, scoring tries in an altogether more convincing manner than their occasional consolation points against the other nations. It will be a fascinating match between a confident underdog and an under-pressure visiting giant here and that should see a slightly smaller win for Ireland than their usual 30+ displays against the Azzurri. Ireland to win by at least three tries, covering -21, seems a reasonable outcome here and it could be worth picking Italy to score the first try in a one-off, separate venture.

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