Ireland vs Italy Live Streaming – It’s round two of the Six Nations as Ireland welcome Italy to the Aviva Stadium. Ireland will buoyant after securing a dramatic last-minute, one-point win over France in Paris last weekend while Italy conceded seven tries in a heavy defeat to England in Rome.
Team news –
One of the most exciting prospects in Irish rugby will make his Six Nations bow. No, it’s not Joey Carbery — although he makes his Six Nations debut as well. Jordan Larmour has been in scintillating form for Leinster and Schmidt will give him the opportunity off the bench on Saturday. Among the four changes to the starting team sees Dan Leavy and Jack Conan come into the back row, while Jack McGrath and Devin Toner are also recalled to the first team.
Italy have kept faith with the starting backline, with their changes also coming in the forward pack with back row Braam Steyn joined by front rows Nicola Quaglio and Luca Bigi. There is no Six Nations debut for Ian McKinley against the country of his birth, as Tommaso Allan and Carlo Canna take the two fly-half spots.
Ireland: Kearney, Earls, Henshaw, Aki, Stockdale, Sexton, Murray; McGrath, Best (captain), Furlong, Henderson, Toner, O’Mahony, Leavy, Conan.
Replacements: Cronin, Healy, Porter, Roux, Stander, Marmion, Carbery, Larmour.
Italy: Minozzi, Benvenuti, Boni, Castello, Bellini, Allan, Violi; Quaglio, Bigi, Ferrari, Zanni, Budd, Negri, Steyn, Parisse (captain).
Replacements: Ghiradldini, Lovotti, Pasquali, Ruzza, Mbanda, Gori, Canna, Hayward.
Key head-to-head –
The back row collision. The biggest question is which inexperienced pair assist their valiant leader at the base of the scrum. Peter O’Mahony (44 Test caps) and Sergio Parisse (130) are flanked by inexperience. Jack Conan (five) will make his Six Nations debut alongside Dan Leavy, (five) who has two substitute appearances in the tournament. Either side of Parisee, Braam Steyn (17) and Sebastian Negri (three) will look to slow down Irish ball, just as the French did last week. Schmidt will hope referee Romain Poite will crack down on any infringements which Nigel Owens failed to do last week.
Key stats –
* Ireland have never lost at home to Italy in the Six Nations, and are on a five-game winning streak against Italy, including their biggest victory coming in last year’s 63-10 defeat of Italy in Rome.
* Italy have won just one game in Ireland, coming in January 1997 in a 37-29 win. Diego Dominguez scored a try, converted all four tries scored and added three penalties in a performance master-class. What they would give for Dominguez at fly-half on Saturday.
* Ireland have scored more than three-times the amount of points that Italy at home, outscoring Saturday’s opponents 328 – 103 in Six Nations games between the teams in Ireland.
The Referee –
Romain Poite will be in charge. Pascal Gauzere (France) and Matthew Carley (England) will be the assistant referees while David Grashoff (England) will be the TMO. Poite was the man in the middle last year when Ireland lost to Scotland.
The weather could dampen Irish attacks as much as the supporters on Saturday, with wind and showers expected in the afternoon. Schmidt will pray it stays away so that his team are not embroiled in a slug-fest at the Aviva.
Anything other than a bonus-point win is unthinkable for Ireland. And if the Six Nations Grand Slam is not won, the tries scored could come into play. They also need a performance to kick-start their championship, boost confidence and above all show that they possess an attacking threat. Far greater challenges await, but a lame showing against the Azzurri will do nothing for Schmidt, whose side have been dogged by criticism on their lack of creativity and attacking ability.