Wednesday, 14 March 2007

Preview Italy v Ireland

On Saturday Ireland have the hardest job of being first up with the chance to win the championship. That is slightly wrong however, because Italy could win on Saturday as well if they beat Ireland and the rest of the results go their way. However, the race is really between Ireland and France ,with England on a outside chance and Italy with a mathematical but highly improbable chance.

I believe that Italy could beat Ireland on Saturday if the play the right type of game. The Italian coach is very clever tactically, as we have send in the 6 nations so far and he will see the opportunity to get at Ireland.

So far Ireland's result, except against England, have been very poor. Wales should have beaten them and would have if they had got the penalty try for taking Czekaj off the ball. France beat them at the death, as Ireland took their metaphorical eye off the ball. Scotland should have beaten them, as Ireland were clearly not up for the game as I discussed in the result post of the Scotland v Ireland match.

So on Saturday away from home against an emergent Italian side with Ireland already won the triple crown, the Grand slam is gone and the French only have Scotland to beat in Paris after a defeat against England. Also knowing that everyone still sees the French as the favourites for the championship, probably including the Irish.

I don't believe the Irish have the right mind set to go to Rome and record a big win. Plus I think the Italians can use the fact they know Ireland must record a big win to tactically out manoeuvre them on the day.


1) Italian Blitz defense is good and can be used to disrupt and upset the Irish back line. Can get at O'Gara and Stringer.

2) Target O'Driscoll, he is injury prone. This is a sound tactical play to remove an oppositions leader. With O'Driscoll out they not only lose their most talented player, but also their captain and talisman.

3) Frustrate Ireland as much as possible. Keep the scores low by playing a very strong defense (as point 1) and wait for Ireland to force the game looking for the big scores, and then exploit the opportunities this will create. Italy will keep the ball in the forwards (their strength) and pound at Ireland slowing down the ball and ruining Irish the game. Tronconn will see the gaps as they appear and give the fast Italian backs a chance to run for or with the ball.

Ireland will be missing O'Connell and the Italians Bergamasco (for taking out the opponents leader!!!).

Also I believe the Italians will be on a high from beating Wales and won't want the last game to be a record defeat at the hands of the Irish.

Ireland will want to make amends for their poor performance from the week before, but most of their players will now be think Heineken Cup and World Cup.

Most of the Strategy for this game will be around the psychology of the two teams. Each side will have plenty of chance to see what the other is capable of and with have planned their tactics appropriately.

Let see what happens. It should make for some interesting viewing for the neutral.

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