Having brought home a 39-31 victory over Japan, the Irish now drop down a tier to take on the USA in Dublin on Saturday night. That win over Japan means Ireland have now won four on the bounce, with each coming against a Tier One side, so this should be a slightly weaker challenge than they’re used to.
Indeed, when nations play across tiers, there’s seldom an upset and that’s reflected in the prices, so there’s little value in getting behind either on the outright and in these kind of games it’s either the margin of victory or the total points that tend to throw up the best options.
Ireland have won all 10 previous meetings with the US by an average of 30.3 points per game, and unsurprisingly they’re even more dominant than that when at home.
USA +26 Handicap
The last three head-to-heads here have ended 53-8, 55-6 and 57-14, leaving the 26-point handicap looking slightly on the short side.
However, the significance of having seven players away on tour with the Lions shouldn’t be understated, and with Andy Farrell mixing up again here with as many as seven players making their first international starts here and a total of eight changes from the side that beat Japan last weekend, so there’s every reason to believe the US can give this a good crack against an extremely inexperienced side.
The visitors come into this off the back of a defeat against a much-changed England side, which should lend itself nicely to what we can expect here.
The result was never really in doubt last weekend, but in the end, there were only two scores in it with it finishing 43-29 to the hosts.
That game was the first time the US have played for nearly two years now, so some rustiness certainly played its part there and we can expect a more cohesive display against the Irish this time round.
While history may suggest the handicap looks too short, this Ireland side is very much a makeshift one and this is more of an opportunity to try out some fringe players, and we’ll side with the visitors to make it closer than expected.