Scotland vs. Italy
Saturday 28 February, 14:30pm
Scotland and Italy will both looking to record their first points of the 2015 Six Nations tournament in this bottom-of-the-table clash at Murrayfield. Home advantage should certainly help the Scots who only narrowly lost to Wales in the last round. A combination of wasteful possession and a steadfast opposition defence denied Vern Cotter’s team a first win over Wales in seven years. This followed an impressive but fruitless performance against France in Paris.
Italy may not be feeling quite as confident after amassing a minus 53 points difference in their opening two games against Ireland and England. However, they will feel that this match represents their best chance to add some respectability to their 2015 campaign.
Unfortunately, the Italians will have to cope without prop Martin Castrogiovanni after the forward was ruled with a facial injury caused by a dog bite. This will be a massive blow to Jacques Brunel’s team and should give Scotland’s pack even more of an advantage.
Castrogiovanni will be replaced by Dario Chistolini in a team that will feature a total of six changes. The most significant inclusions will be Michele Visentin and centre Enrico Bacchin who will both be making their international debuts.
Winger Visentin will replace Zebre teammate Leonardo Sarto while centre Bacchin will take the place of London Wasps counterpart Andrea Masi who has picked up an injury. Matias Aguero, Simone Favaro and Joshua Furno make up the remainder of a dozen changes to the stating XV with Mauro Bergamasco, Leonardo Sarto and Alberto De Marchi making way.
Scotland will be forced to make changes of their own after suffering from a string of injuries and suspensions. Finn Russell has been suspended following a reckless tackle on Dan Biggar in the match against Wales – a later appeal was rejected by the Six Nations committee. Richie Gray, Jon Welsh and Gordon Reid will also miss out after picking up injuries during the same game. As a result, Chris Cusiter Adam Ashe, Moray Low, Alex Allan and David Denton have all been added to the squad.
After struggling to find a way through the Welsh defensive line, the Scots should find the Italian’s slightly easier to break down. They will also look to improve their kicking point’s total in a game that they will be expected to win in front of their home crowd.
Prediction: Scotland to win by 10-15 points.