Wales can edge Rugby World Cup warm-up clash with Ireland
Wales heroically defended their try-line against Ireland during the Six Nations earlier this season, with a record-breaking 289 tackles compared to Ireland’s 104. Such staunch resolve explains why Coral make the hosts narrow odds-on 4/5 favourites to win their first Rugby World Cup warm-up.
And yet, Ireland dominated possession, having almost two-thirds of the ball in their last encounter with their Celtic rivals. The Six Nations winners are even-money chances to come away from the Millennium Stadium with victory.
Wales were impressive in preventing Ireland from a Grand Slam in the spring, which helped to bring about one of the most exciting Six Nations competitions for a long time. Joe Schmidt’s side pipped the Welsh and World Cup host nation England to the title.
Warren Gatland has chosen four uncapped players to go up against the Irish; Bath lock Dominic Day, Newport Gwent Dragons centre Tyler Morgan, Ospreys winger Eli Walker and Gloucester’s Ross Moriarty on the blindside; and all will be keen to impress on their Welsh international debuts.
Gatland has also brought back Mike Philips and James Hook, as the experienced half back pairing, last seen together in the last Rugby World Cup in 2011. Alex Cuthbert takes his place on the wing and Scott Williams will skipper Wales, so is 3/1 to lead by example and score a try against Ireland.
The back row are an impressive selection of players, and Hallam Amos is one that should certainly be watched at a nifty 9/4 to cross anytime. An exciting young player, he played a pivotal role with the Dragons in the European Challenge Cup last season.
Ireland coach Schmidt has, however, chosen a team regular rugby punters will most likely recognise. With Jamie Heaslip captaining the side, Darren Cave and Keith Earls take up positions at centre.
An all-Leinster side makes up the front row with Jack McGrath, Richard Strauss and Mike Ross. Taking scrum-half alongside Paddy Jackson is Eoin Reddan, while Fergus McFadden and Andrew Trimble are on the wings.
Trimble is one to watch, and a player Wales need to shackle. With five tries in eight appearances in an Ireland jersey, he could prove lethal for the side and needs to make an immediate impact being favourite at 7/4 to score a try, but a tasty 10/1 to go over first.
Ireland are going for experience in this match, but Wales could prove stronger with a tried and tested half back combination, plus a very strong scrum. With such different team selections on both sides, it is sure to be close.