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RLWC Preview: Ireland vs. Italy

Dan Talintyre (Twitter: @dantalintyre)

IRE v ITA

Ireland will begin their World Cup campaign with an intriguing clash against Italy as the two cross-group European nations battle it out in the Cairns humidity.

One of the few teams to head in to the tournament without a warm-up game, Ireland have shown themselves to be a quality opponent in the past, with wins over France, Wales and Scotland as part of the European Championships in the past three years.

Their last time out at the World Cup was not as successful however, losing all three matches and being held scoreless by England (def. 42-0) and Australia (def. 50-0).

They’ll come in to the tournament better prepared this this around, and in a much easier group too with fixtures against Italy, PNG and Wales on the schedule — albeit with a bit more travel involved as they venure from Cairns to PNG and then over to Perth.

Comparatively, Italy showed glimpses of being a surprise threat in the tournament with a gallant showing against a strong Tongan team in their warm-up fixture. It looks like the Azzurri won’t quite have the forward pack capable of toppling the bigger sides, but against teams like Ireland, Cameron Ciraldo’s men could prove to be more than capable.

With a handful of NRL experience in their midst, Italy could do enough to get out of their group, and the points available here in the cross-group fixture could prove to be the key.
 

Group C/D: Ireland vs. Italy

MATCH DETAILS

Date — Sunday, October 29, 2017

Time — 3:00pm AEDT

Venue — Barlow Park, Cairns (AUS)

 

LIVE STREAM AND TV INFORMATION

Live Stream — Channel 7’s https://7live.com.au/ (Australia only)

TV — Click here for a full country-by-country list of TV broadcasts.

 

TEAM NEWS

Ireland — 1. Scott Grix 2. Shannon McDonnell 3. Ed Chamberlain 4. Michael Morgan 5. Liam Kay 6. Api Pewhairangi 7. Liam Finn 8. Brad Singleton 9. Michael McIlroum 10. Kyle Amor 12. Oliver Roberts 13. George King (Interchange: 14. Tyrone McCarthy 15. James Hasson 16. Joe Philbin 17. Anthony Mullally) — Coach: Mark Ashton

Reserves: 18. Joe Keyes 19. Will Hope 20. Jack Higginson 21. Matty Hayden

Italy — 1. James Tedesco 2. Mason Cerruto 3. Justin Castellaro 4. Nathan Milone 5. Josh Mantellato 6. Terry Campese 7. Jack Johns 8. Paul Vaughan 9. Ryan Ghietti 10. Daniel Alvaro 11. Joel Riethmuller 12. Mark Minichiello 13. Nathan Brown (Interchange: 14. Colin Wilke 15. Brenden Santi 16. Shannon Wakeman 17. Jayden Walker) — Coach: Cameron Ciraldo

Reserves: 18. Christophe Calegri 19. Christopher Centrone 20. Joe Tramontana 21. Gavin Hiscox

 

RLWC STANDINGS — POOL

GROUP C

Played

Won

Lost

F/A

Points

Papua New Guinea

-

-

-

-

-

Wales

-

-

-

-

-

Ireland

-

-

-

-

-

 

GROUP D

Played

Won

Lost

F/A

Points

Fiji

-

-

-

-

-

United States

-

-

-

-

-

Italy

-

-

-

-

-

 

HISTORY

Ireland and Italy have never faced an international level before, with Saturday’s meeting the first time the two have appeared in the same tournament since the 2013 World Cup. Ireland have more World Cup experience — having qualified for three of the last four World Cups — while Italy will feature in their second campaign this time around. Interestingly, Ireland come in to the competition ranked much higher on the RLIF world rankings, currently sitting at seventh on the list while Italy are well down in 14th.

 

PLAYER TO FOLLOW — Jack Johns, Italy

The surname might be a tough hype to live up to, but there’s certainly a talent there in Jack Johns that Italy will be looking to tap in to during the World Cup. A teenage playmaker at the Newcastle Knights, Johns will have the experienced Terry Campese alongside him in the halves and the talented James Tedesco out the back to help him, and that may well lead to an impressive performance from the highly-rated youngster.

 

PREDICTION

With no form line to go off, it’s tough to judge what Ireland can achieve here against Italy. The heat and humidity of Cairns will prove challenging for both teams, but we’re tipping that Italy will have enough class to get them home in a tight one. Italy by 7.

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