RBS Six Nations: Italy v Scotland match preview

Last Updated: 22/02/14 12:24pm

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Italy take on Scotland at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome with the match being dubbed as the wooden spoon decider.

Both side's are still searching for their first victory of the Six Nations competition.

The Dark Blues arrive in the Eternal City on the back of two painful defeats to Ireland and arch-enemies England.

The Azzurri, meanwhile, have suffered opening defeats to Wales and France, but will fancy their chances against Scott Johnson's confidence-stricken side.

The Scots are the team Italy have beaten most often in the competition - winning six out of their last 14 encounters.

Italy head coach Jacques Brunel has made three changes for the encounter and names former Scotland Under-20 fly-half Tommy Allan at No 10 which adds a little extra spice.

Two of Brunel's switches come in the back row, where Roberto Barbieri and Alessandro Zanni replace Mauro Bergamasco and Francesco Minto.

The other alteration to the team beaten heavily by France in Paris a fortnight ago comes on the wing, where Angelo Esposito returns in place of Tommaso Iannone.

Captain Sergio Parisse and Martin Castrogiovanni, who made their debuts together in 2002 against the All Blacks, will set the Italy caps record together with their 104th appearances.

Brunel wary

"Recent results haven't been going Scotland's way, but they're one of the teams we seem to have most difficulty with," said Brunel, who admits Italy are taking nothing for granted. "They have character and always play with determination. They will be tough opponents.

"They (Scotland) have character and always play with determination. They will be tough opponents."
Jacques Brunel

"We have worked as always on the defence, which I think has improved from last year even if there are still too many individual errors.

"We still have to learn to take control of games when we can. In Wales, we conceded too many points at the beginning and in France we created a lot without finishing off as many as we should, but creating chances of scoring a try is something positive."

Scotland have also made three changes with coach Johnson dropping No. 8 David Denton, Scotland's best player so far, for Johnnie Beattie, whom he believed will provide better link play in the fast game they plan.

British Lions lock Richie Gray is back after missing the painful 20-0 defeat to the Auld Enemy, which has produced a furious backlash.

Johnson has welcomed the withering criticism but claims his young side can only improve with more experience.

"There have been easier weeks in my life," he said. "The key for us this weekend is execution of skill. That's it. We execute, we win, we don't, we lose."

Italy: 15 McLean, 14 Esposito, 13 Campagnaro, 12 Garcia, 11 Sarto, 10 Allan, 9 Gori; 1 de Marchi, 2 Ghiraldini, 3 Castrogiovani, 4 Geldenhuys, 5 Furno, 6 Zanni, 7 Barbieri, 8 Parisse (c).

Replacements: 16 Giazzon, 17 Aguero, 18 Cittadini, 19 Bortolami, 20 Derbyshire, 21 Botes, 22 Orquera, 23 Iannone.

Scotland: 15 Hogg, 14 Seymour, 13 Dunbar, 12 Scott, 11 Lamont, 10 Weir, 9 Laidlaw (c); 1 Grant, 2 Lawson, 3 Low, 4 Gray, 5 Hamilton, 6 Wilson, 7 Fusaro, 8 Beattie.

Replacements: 16 Ford, 17 Dickinson, 18 Cross, 19 Swinson, 20 Denton, 21 Cusiter, 22 Taylor, 23 Evans.

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