SCOTLAND head to Rome this weekend with a hunger to end their poor run of form. It’s been two years since they won in the RBS Six Nations but will Italy leave them wanting?
Head coach Vern Cotter has been quick to talk up a Scottish win this weekend. A resurgence in the World Cup and a slender loss to England and Wales in this year’s Six Nations campaign may have bolstered Scots confidence ahead of the tie at Stadio Olimpico but Italy are a side that are looking decidedly more dyanmic with an attacking game. With the spectre of their nine-game losing streak looming large, the stakes could not be higher for Cotter’s men.
Here’s all you need to know ahead of the match...
Kick-off time: 2.25pm
Where to watch: STV (ITV1) from 1.25pm
Italy team (15-1): David Odiete, Leonardo Sarto, Michele Campagnaro, Gonzalo Garcia, Mattia Bellini, Kelly Haimona, Edoardo Gori, Sergio Parisse, Alessandro Zanni, Francesco Minto, Joshua Furno, Marco Fuser, Lorenzo Citttadini, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Andrea Lovotti. Replacements: Davide Giazzon, Matteo Zanusso, Martin Castrogiovanni, Valerio Bernabo, Andries Van Schalkwyk, Guglielmo Palazzani, Edoardo Padovani, Andrea Pratichetti.
Scotland team (15-1): Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour, Mark Bennett, Duncan Taylor, Tim Visser, Finn Russell, Greig Laidlaw; Alasdair Dickinson, Ross Ford, WP Nel, Richie Gray, Jonny Gray; John Barclay, John Hardie, David Denton. Replacements: Stuart McInally, Rory Sutherland, Moray Low, Tim Swinson, Ryan Wilson, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Peter Horne, Sean Lamont.
Referee: Jaco Peyper (RSA)
Key players: Michele Campagnaro, Kelly Haimona, Leonardo Ghiraldini (Italy). Tim Visser, Ross Ford, Greig Laidlaw (Scotland)
Last five meetings: Scotland 48-7 Italy; Italy 12-16 Scotland; Scotland 19-22 Italy; Italy 20-21 Scotland; Scotland 30-29 Italy.
Odds: Italy 9/4 Draw 18/1 Scotland 2/5
What Italy are saying: “For us it will be a very difficult game. We cannot allow ourselves the luxury of thinking that it won’t be. I think that Scotland are one of the most difficult teams to face.” (Jacques Brunel, Italy head coach)
What Scotland are saying: “Italy surprised France and England with their physicality, intensity and quality, all of which we will have to be ready for... We have worked hard to improve our game and will stay true to the core values of this team, which is to work hard but stay calm; have belief in our systems, ourselves, and enjoy the opportunity.” (Vern Cotter, Scotland head coach)
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