Fabio Ongaro urges Azzurri to remain wary of backlash
ITALY flanker Fabio Ongaro has warned his team-mates to expect a backlash from Scotland when the two sides meet in Saturday's RBS Six Nations match in Rome.
The Azzurri go into the game at the Flaminio Stadium with confidence lifted by an impressive performance against England two weeks ago, the Italians pushing England to the very end before going down to a narrow 17-12 defeat.
Nick Mallett's team will need to work equally hard to subdue a Scottish side keen to atone for the 31-24 loss to Wales in Cardiff last time out.
"Scotland are playing the best rugby in the Six Nations," said Ongaro. "Against Wales, certain individual mistakes saw them give away a game they should have won.
"I think they are aware they lost that game because of their insecurities and not due to the merit of the Welsh side. That is why they will come to the Flaminio Stadium desperate to bounce back. But we are also disappointed with the result against England."
The Azzurri have yet to get their campaign up and running. Their defeat to England followed their 29-11 loss to Ireland in their tournament opener in Dublin but, despite their work, Scotland also have nothing to show for their efforts.
Ongaro knows the importance of Saturday's game, considering the Italians went into the tournament looking to improve after wooden-spoon performances in 2008 and 2009.
They have won just one of their last 12 games in the Six Nations, a 23-20 victory over Scotland in Rome in March nearly two years ago.
"We know that the game against Scotland is for us – and for them – one of the most important games of the tournament," said the Saracens flanker.
"But the pressure is different with respect to previous weeks. Despite the defeat against England, we played better than our rivals.
"We made life difficult for them and this has given us a boost in confidence. We just have to continue to work and put on the pitch all the positive things we did against England."
Italy lost 26-6 at Murrayfield last year but the Azzurri have had the upper hand in recent years, winning two of their last three meetings against Scotland.
Forwards: M Aguero (Saracens), Ma Bergamasco (Stade Francais), M Bortolami (Gloucester), M Castrogiovanni (Leicester), C Antonio Del Fava (Viadana), P Derbyshire (Petrarca Padova), L Ghiraldini (Treviso), L Cittadini (Treviso), Q Geldenhuys (Viadana), F Ongaro (Saracens), S Perugini (Bayonne), J Sole (Viadana), A Zanni (Treviso).
Backs: M Bergamasco (Stade Francais), R Bocchino (Rovigo), G Canale (Clermont), P Canavosio (Viadana), A Masi (Racing Metro Paris), L McLean (Treviso), G Garcia (Treviso), C Gower (Bayonne), K Robertson (Viadana), A Sgarbi (Treviso), T Tebaldi (Gran Parma).
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