Wales have arguably been the form team of the 2011 Rugby World Cup, with Warren Gatland’s team having beaten Samoa, Namibia and Fiji following a miscarriage of justice against South Africa in their opening Pool D game.
As it turned out, defeat against the Springboks has actually given the Welsh an easier passage to the World Cup final, with Ireland and probably England standing in their way to the grand showdown on 23 October.
You can get decent odds about Wales winning their quarter final, with bet365 (£200 free bets) offering 6/5 about the boys in red, despite the fact that Shane Williams, Jonathan Davies, Alun Wyn Jones and Dan Lydiate are all back in the team for the match at the Regional Stadium.
Gatland admits that it has been difficult leaving quality players out, stating: “It’s a great position to be in when you are struggling to find a place for players in the squad and the starting line-up, instead of having to think who can make up the numbers, which has sometimes been the case.
“This is Rugby World Cup quarter-final time and we had some tough decisions to make with the likes of Dan, Shane and James returning from injury and the side having done so well in their recent absence”.
Some punters will be looking to back Wales on the handicap market and they are even money (Paddy Power – £100 free betting) with a two-point start and 4/6 (Betfred) with a five-point start.
Ireland are the bookmaker favourites (5/6 Stan James) after an impressive showing during the group stage which saw them beat Australia 15-6 as well as crush Italy 36-6 in their final group match.
On the basis of the win over the Wallabies, Declan Kidney’s side could easily find themselves in the final, especially with England and France both proving erratic in New Zealand so far.
Brian O’Driscoll, Paul O’Connell and Ronan O’Gara are playing at their last World Cup and look determined to go out with a bang, while Keith Earls senses that something big could happen for the Irish.
“It’s strange, I have this feeling,” said Lions and Munster winger.
“Speaking to my father and family members back home…I have this strange feeling inside me where it feels like everything is going right.
“Everything went right in the group and everyone is so happy. I keep imagining ourselves in the final.
“I’m concentrating on playing Wales, but it is a strange feeling I have.”
Ireland can be backed at odds of evens to win the match giving Wales a two-point start, with Betfred going 13/10 that they win by six points or more, something that they managed to do against the Aussies.