Ireland vs Italy Preview

The Ireland coach coming into this World Cup stated his side were "just here for the experience". This outlook is both respectable and damning all in one foul swoop. The odds are stacked very heavily against the Irish, they are aware that their squad lacks talent,  compared to the other smaller nations competing such as; PNG, France and Scotland. While i appreciate their coach's honesty, I can't condone a coach going to a major competition and essentially saying "I don't expect us to win any games" it's counter productive to morale. Mark Aston is not the only man guilty of this, Wayne Bennett stated he would "settle for a close loss to Australia". If that is your attitude coming into a game expect to be on the receiving end of a cricket score.

Ireland: The Wolfhound's are not without quality in their squad, they bring experienced hooker Michael Mcllorum, aggressive props Brad Singleton and Kyle Amor. Mcllorum will be key in the Ireland squad, his vision and strength will cause problems around the ruck, he's regarded as one of the best hookers in super league and has been pivotal in Wigan's success over the last few years. Amor is a strong runner of the ball, punching holes and creating space, often finding the floor quickly to enable a fast play the ball against a broken defensive line. Singleton is probably one of the smallest props you will see in the competition, what he lacks in size he makes up for in sheer disregard for his own health, pacey runs with a strong leg drive ensuring good post contact metres. If Ireland play to their strengths they can keep this match competitive, but i get the feeling if The Azzurri score back to back early then heads will go down and a big score line is on it's way.

Italy: Italy are backed with NRL big names, making them a very strong team this year, the likes of; Paul Vaughan, James Tedesco and Parramatta's Nathan Brown. The threat that these three players pose alone is a daunting prospect for Irish fans and players alike. Vaughan was one of the NRL's form forwards last season, making huge meters and scoring tries, Vaughan truly had the season of his life and Italy will hope he continues in blue. Ireland's kick chase game needs to be strong because if you give James Tedesco space, he will punish you. As a lot of NRL defences found out, if you don't put pressure on the former tigers man, you will be left tackling shadows as he races away. The Azzurri will come into this game hoping to move the ball through their hands and experiment with a few new plays, while still treating the game with an air of caution, sticking to the attitude "anything can happen".

Conclusion: This game seems to be have been lost by the Irish camp for weeks so that can't be disappointed with whatever happens on the field. I expect a competitive opening 15 minutes before the floodgates open and Italy find their rhythm and begin scoring for fun. I predict Italy to take this by 20 points+.



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