The opening match of the Autumn Nations Cup looks set to be a vital one for the current Welsh management. Wayne Pivac hasn’t had the best of starts in the dugout and he’ll certainly want to stop his sides’ current losing streak from getting out of hand, but it’ll be a tough ask at Aviva Stadium.
Ireland on the other hand will still be hurting after their defeat in Paris a fortnight ago. A simple knock on by Jacob Stockdale probably cost them the game, with that leading to a penalty try and a yellow card for Caelan Doris.
However, they are still very much a team in transition under Andy Farrell and it’s hardly the worst of defeats against a French team that also beat Wales and England in the Six Nations, proving to be the form team even if they failed to lift the trophy.
It is worrying times for Wales at the minute as five straight defeats is their worst run since touring New Zealand in 2016 and it isn’t as if they have faced teams of that quality consistently.
In fact, their low point was losing to Scotland at Parc y Scarlets a fortnight ago, with that the first time they’d lost to them in Wales since 2002, while a fifth-place finish as a result was just the second time in 13 years that they’d done so, and no doubt the pressure will be mounting on the new coach.
The Irish look to have a comeback in mind as they’ve named a strong side for their Autumn Nations Cup opener. Seven changes may seem a lot, but with the likes of Peter O’Mahony and Josh van der Flier coming in, it’s hardly weaker outfit and so we can still expect a strong showing.
Of course, this competition will still be used as more of a chance for coaches to try some new players out with Jamison Gibson Park filling in at scrum half for Conor Murray who will sit on the bench, but the end goal will certainly to be to win.
Ireland -8 Point Handicap
The 12 meetings between these two teams dating back to the Six Nations in 2013 have seen Ireland come out on top W7-D1-L4, as three of those Welsh victories came in their home country.
This will be an extremely tough ask for the visitors too, as the men in green have a remarkable 17 wins from their 18 matches in Ireland since the start of 2017.
That includes that famous victory over New Zealand here two years ago, while only a plucky English side could get the better of them last year.
In fact, against the Tier One nations when excluding Italy over that period here at Aviva Stadium, they won by more than eight points in nine of their 12 such victories and against an out of sort Welsh side we’d be very surprised if they didn’t do the same again.