Schmidt's side thrive in final 40 minutes, so expect Six Nations winners Ireland to put Azzurri to the sword in second half at Olympic Stadium.
Ireland’s start to this World Cup has been very impressive and they are living up to their billing as Europe’s number one side, even if people, and bookies, refuse to recognise them as genuine title contenders.
Granted, they have yet to face any real tests, but they have disposed of both Canada and Romania with ease and will not be fazed by the magnitude of this meeting with Italy. Win and they are in the quarter-finals before their sternest Pool D test against France.
The Men in Green are the big odds-on favourites for this one at 1/12 with Betway and it is easy to see why. They have only tasted defeat against the Azzurri once outside of Italy, and that came way back in 1997.
Italy are used to the underdog tag, but a nervy victory over Canada will have done little to boost confidence and their 14/1 price of causing an upset with Sky Bet is understandable.
In fact, when the two teams faced-off in the Six Nations earlier this year it was Ireland’s stout defence and ruthless second-half finishing that saw them emerge as comfortable winners, without their opponents managing to cross the whitewash.
The Azzurri are a team that tend to tire in the second period and they showed that against the Canadians. Just when they are expected to take the game away from the opposition they always seem to let them back in, and that is something the Irish will take real advantage of.
Joe Schmidt’s side are one of the fittest teams out there and they showed that against Romania, running in 26 of their 44 points in the second period.
The previous two matches between these two nations should be the blueprint for this match-up. Ireland have been ahead by 10 and six points respectively if those meetings, before going on to win those games by 39 and 23 points come the final whistle.
Italy will start big, Ireland’s green wall will stand strong and as their opponents tire their backs will put the Italians to the sword in the second period.
William Hill’s 10/11 price on the Irish winning the second half despite a -10 handicap looks the pick of the lot here. Punters looking for a bit more security might prefer the 2/9 with Ladbrokes for Ireland to win both halves, but you can afford to be bold and back the Irish to outlast the Azzurri.
BETTING TIP: Ireland win the second half with handicap of 10 points @ 10/11 with William Hill.