Ireland v Wales Betting: Back Gatland to bring up his ton with a flourish

Biggar and better - Dan Biggar is straight back into the Wales line-up
Biggar and better - Dan Biggar is straight back into the Wales line-up
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Warren Gatland marks his 100th Test in charge of Wales in Dublin and Ralph Ellis is backing him to mark the occasion with another triumph against the odds...

"Going for Wales plus 9.5 points in the Handicap Market at about even money might be the safer bet. But there is a lot that is on the side of the visitors."

To Warren Gatland, reaching 100 matches in charge of Wales when they go to Ireland this weekend is merely "a nice milestone". It isn't as important as the match itself, he says.

I suppose when you are on 143 Tests in all in a career in charge of Ireland, Wales and the British Lions then you've long since ceased to get excited by the various records you've passed on the way.

But what doesn't change - and probably explains why Gatland has wracked up that world record total of games as a Test boss - is the fierce-will-to-win in every one of them. Will that be any more because it is his 100th? Probably not. Will it burn just as bright as it always does? Absolutely.

Ireland are always strong in Dublin so it isn't surprising they go into Saturday afternoon's crunch as the [1.33] favourites in the Match Odds. Personally, though, I'd rather take the [4.3] about Gatland's team causing an upset.

It's tough on Wales to be playing back-to-back away games, having come so close to upsetting England at Twickenham two weeks ago.

Indeed you could argue they did beat England, with nobody still sure quite how television match official Glenn Newman decided Anthony Watson touched the ball down before Gareth Anscombe in the game's most controversial moment.

Couple that with their 34-7 crushing of Scotland on the opening weekend, and it is clear that Gatland's return to Wales after taking a year out for his Lions duties has re-energised the team.

They have conceded the fewest points of any of the Six Nations sides so far, and that's been with a line-up disrupted by injuries to some of their key players.

Not suggesting it will be easy. Going for Wales plus 9.5 points in the Handicap Market at about even money might be the safer bet. But there is a lot that is on the side of the visitors.

Gatland has his big names returning, with Leigh Halfpenny straight back in after the foot injury that kept him out of the Twickenham game, the giant Dan Bigger at fly half and Lions wing Liam Williams also returning. He can even afford to hold back he powerful running of George North to keep on the bench for late in the game.

Like all top coaches, Gatland has a ruthless side. He said a lot of nice things about Rhys Patchell, who crumbled against England after being targeted in Eddie Jones' pre-match chat, but when it came to naming his side in Dublin the young Scarlets fly-half isn't even on the bench. Brutal.

The truth is the other players will respect that - they like a boss who is brave enough to make the big calls and goes with his beliefs rather than fudge his selections to keep people happy.

And you can expect them to show that loyalty to the man who has been their boss for more than 10 years when they turn up in Dublin. Let's not forget they crushed the Irish 22-9 in Cardiff last year so there will be no fears of trying to do the same away from home.

Most of all they will fancy giving Gatland, who has delivered three titles in his time in charge, something to mark his 100th match. They will know it is only a "nice" milestone for him if they win it.

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