Followers of international rugby have a massive weekend ahead with games of note taking place on Saturday and Sunday. Ireland host Italy in front of a packed Aviva Stadium to get the show on the road and followers can keep pace with the play from 2.00pm.

A sell-out audience will be in attendance, hoping to catch a glimpse of their sporting heroes as we approach what will be an important autumn series of fixtures, showcasing some of the best in the business. Those who can’t make it along to the Aviva Stadium can watch the Ireland v Italy match live on terrestrial, free to view stations Channel Four and RTE and we’re expecting bumper viewing figures for this one.

Busy Day of Action

Before that match gets underway fans of the sport have a headline act from the Rugby Championship as two big hitters face-off in Australia and New Zealand at Optus Stadium. That has an advertised 10.45am start time and will be one for the purists. It’s never a dull affair when these giants clash, and Saturday’s meeting will be no different. Expect that game to live up to the hype, and then some. The perfect way to get your weekend up and running.

The third and final match of Saturday’s schedule pairs Argentina and South Africa with a 20.40 GMT kick-off. The latter takes place at Estadio Padre Ernesto Martarena. Those three matches serve as a real treat for armchair fans but they also present sports bettors with an opportunity to place an exciting accumulator.

Major bookmakers offer a number of eye-catching markets on each game, including match winner, first try scorer, correct score, handicap, winning margin and plenty more besides. Pick your strategy.  Bet game by game and aim to boost your balance or throw a few shrewd selections together to create a multiple, such as an accumulator or Trixie. Big wins for small stakes is the target there.

Place Your Bets in Play

You can have your say before the start of each game or keep your powder dry and bet in play as the match develops. Many of the most popular pre-match markets remain live throughout the course of the 80 minutes with prices and handicap lines updated to track the progress of the game. A bet is as exciting in the final few minutes of play as it was before the start and that will keep punters glued to the live TV action and on the edge of their seats.

The highlight of Sunday’s schedule sees England take on neighbours Wales from 2.00pm GMT from Twickenham and that’s sure to be a lively affair. Our team of expert tipsters preview that match.

Before approaching the England v Wales tie we have run the rule over Ireland v Italy on Saturday, guiding you through team news, form, the current betting and our expert predictions, aimed at helping you beat the bookies and profit from your enjoyment of the contest. Live international rugby in summer is a real thrill but it can’t compare to earning a profit from the play and that is our main objective here.

Vital World Cup Warm-up

As well as being part of the Guinness sponsored Summer Series, this match will also serve as the first of a four-game warm-up for the 2019 World Cup which takes place in Japan between 20 September and 2 November. The host nation open the show against Russia at 11.45am live on ITV with Ireland getting their campaign underway against Scotland on Sunday 22 September from 8:45am, the same day as England take on Tonga.

Head coach Joe Schmidt will use this game against Italy and the three tests that follow to put the finishing touches to his World Cup preparation. He’ll use his squad wisely to get a good look at the players who deserve a spot in the World Cup starting 15 and he’ll also work through tactics, fitness and rotation. How Ireland perform on Saturday and in the Summer Series will give us a good idea of what to expect in Japan when things get serious. Bookmakers have written off Ireland’s chances of winning the World Cup, which is perfectly understandable, but there’s confidence in the camp and the players will rate their chances of progressing beyond the group stages and asking questions of the big boys when playing knockout rugby.

If they perform well during the summer tests punters should see their price to win the World Cup shorten. Those looking to back Ireland will find 7/1 available at 10bet with each-way backers getting the benefit of 1/3 the odds a place 1-2. That means, to ensure a return on your investment when backing Ireland in the World Cup outright market they must, at least, reach the final.

Final Score Flattered Ireland

Followers of Irish rugby will recall their team beating Italy during this year’s Six Nations tournament. They grabbed the win thanks to a 26-16 scoreline but the match was rather more competitive than the bare result suggests. Italy went into that contest as betting underdogs, but they exploded out of the traps to take the lead, stunning the support and putting their rivals on the back foot early. That seemed to catch Ireland off guard, but they rallied back to edge themselves in front and finished good value for their victory.

Everyone in the home dressing room will fancy a repeat performance and the fans would be glad to see more of the drama we saw that day, although the coaching staff would much prefer a more clear cut win, showing they have improved in the months that have passed since the Six Nations. The head-to-head stats show us Ireland and Italy have played 30 competitive contests since 1988 and the home nation have dominated proceedings with 26 wins against the four of Italy. Will we see Ireland extend that to 27 or can Italy grab a high five against all the odds?

It’s anyone’s guess at this stage but bookmakers seem convinced this will be a simple home win and it’s difficult to argue against that stance. Fancy having your cash down on the locals? Backers will have to make do with the 1/33 offered by Betfair. That’s very tight indeed but, interestingly, it’s market best price with most firms closer to the 1/40 mark. You’ll even find bits and pieces of 1/100 out there, proving how the money men expect this one to go.

Cramped Odds

Such cramped odds will force sports bettors into the specials markets rather than taking a chance on Italy. The visitors are as big as 14/1 with Betfair, the draw available at a stunning 66/1 with the same firm. Nice prices and the kind of odds we’d love to see paid into your betting balance as a winner but it’s almost impossible to make a strong case for Italy winning at the Aviva Stadium in front of a passionate home support. 14/1 is big but that price is a fair one.

The majority of players will find themselves priced out of a bet on Ireland winning the match but there’s plenty available in the specials markets to hold our interest. If you’re confident about a home win you can back Ireland on the handicap for a more attractive price. Ireland -26 points is 10/11 with Betfair and the same firm offer 10/11 on Italy +26 points. The latter would’ve been paid out as a winner the last time these nations played and the fact this is a World Cup warm-up will ensure both teams make full use of their substitutions.

A 26 points head start is a massive advantage and we’re confident the visiting team can stay within that margin. They may not be good enough to beat Ireland at the Aviva, but Italy are an improving side and they don’t end on the wrong side of too many hammerings. It is possible, of course, but it doesn’t happen nearly as often as it used to. Remember, Italy isn’t just here to make up the numbers, they’ll want to put on a show and make their hosts work for any fortune they get.

Italy to Stay Within the Handicap

The Italians were beaten by France at home in the Six Nations on 16 March, as was expected, but it was another match that saw them hold their own for large parts of the contest against world-class opposition. The scoreboard that day read Italy 14-25 France and that was another that had them well within the 26 points handicap. They were also beaten 33-20 by Scotland at Murrayfield earlier in the format, although did give the Scots a bit of a scare that day.

There are dozens of specials markets on offer that offer an interest at different stages of the day. The first try to be converted is priced at 1/3 against the 9/4 for no. You can predict the highest-scoring half with 11/10 available on the opening 40 minutes producing more points than the second, a draw priced at 16/1. Fancy this match to go the way bookmakers expect it to? If you’re hot on the chances of a landslide home win you can back Ireland to win to nil at 22/1, Italy to win to nil available at a staggering 750/1. Nice prices but neither should appear on too many bet slips.