Can Wales End on a High?

This could still be a good year for Wales. If they can win in Rome, they next welcome a wounded Ireland to Cardiff. There might then be all to play for in their final Saturday night showdown with France in Paris. But first there is the small matter of seeing off the Italians.

Wales will be heartened by their progress. They have not yet been at their best, but ran England close and beat Scotland comfortably. That long winless streak has ended. James Hook has brought flair to the fly-half position, while old hands like Shane Williams are contributing again.

With a road win under their belts, Wales will travel with optimism. They are rightly strong favourites to beat Italy. They will however look to play an expansive, attacking game in preparation for the sterner tests ahead. This is the perfect opportunity to cut loose and anyone looking at the rugby union betting should remember this.

But lest the Welsh be overconfident, they should remember what happened on previous visits: in 2009, when they needed a late try to spare their blushes, and in 2007, when Italy beat them. Just winning by more than a score would represent a step forward for Wales.

Whereas winning at all would be huge for Italy. Realistically, this match is their only chance to win before a final day wooden spoon playoff with Scotland. And after being denied by Ireland at the death, why should they not go one better against Wales? The Six Nations betting makes them outsiders for the match, but they are an improving side.

This may not be a pretty game, and it is unlikely to be full of tries. But if Wales can cross the Italian line a couple of times, and pick up a few penalties along the way, they should win handily. If they can’t, the Italian forwards will keep them in the match, and they will nudge the scoreboard along three points at a time.

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