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Nic Ladds 11th Mar 2010 - 21:06

Ton-up O'Driscoll faces a tough Welsh test

There will be no love lost as Ireland take on Wales at Croke Park as the Welsh bid to take revenge for last year's heart - breaking defeat which handed the Grand Slam to the Irish.

It is easy to understand why Ireland are at odds of 2/9 to emerge victorious as they appear to be in a lot better form that Wales who are available at 3/1.

Warren Gatland has seen his side constantly perform dismally in the first halves of games before making rousing come backs in the second, but against both England and France these charges came too late and they were extremely fortunate to beat Scotland and Wales will need to play with that panache from the off.

Ireland bounced back from their crushing defeat by France to edge out England at Twickenham, a victory which will have confidence sky high but asking the home side to give up nine points at odds of 10/11 on the handicap looks like a tough task.

The games between these two sides are often tight but an interesting stat is that Wales have scored a try in every Six Nations match in Ireland since 1970 and many punters will feel the need to look no further than Shane Williams at 11/1 for first try, while Leigh Halfpenny is 14/1 and powerful centre Jamie Roberts, 18/1.

For Ireland Brian O'Driscoll would dearly love to mark his 100th cap with the first try and he is 11/1 to do so while Tommy Bowe, who is fast becoming one of the best wingers in the world is 8/1 and Jamie Heaslip 22/1 to carry on his sterling work from the number 8 position and Wales will need to watch for his powerful runs.

Both sides are so dangerous on the break that this looks like it could be high scoring with question marks being raised over both teams' defenses Declan Kidney will be particularly concerned that Ireland have been giving away so many penalties and a back of a Wales penalty as the first scoring play at 15/8 could be a way to profit from Irish indiscipline.

If the way things have gone this tournament are anything to go by then backing Ireland giving up four points on the first half handicap at 10/11 then Wales on the second half handicap with a five point head start at even money could have you laughing all the way to the bank.

Ireland will see this as a chance to all but cement the Triple Crown with just victory over Scotland standing in their way and Wales continue to frustrate and disappoint despite having some very talented individuals.

Ireland will win but Wales +9 on the handicap at 10/11 looks the bet while the first and second half handicap bets are another option. For a first try scorer Williams could not be in better form but the day could be all about O'Driscoll and at 9/4 he looks worth a bet to cap his century with an emotional try.


Wales +9 - 10/11

Brian O'Driscoll to score a try - 9/4



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