All the big team news, key issues and TV details you need for the Six Nations match between Italy and Scotland in Rome
Six Nations Italy v Scotland Preview
Both Italy and Scotland are hoping to kick-start ther Six Nations campaigns in Rome. Neither side have won yet and what’s worst for the Scots, they are yet to score a single try in the tournament this year.
Having dried off after the storm at Murrayfield in Round Two, can they make hay in the sunshine of Rome?
Scotland v Italy has thrown up some interesting ties in the past, with the Italians triumphing sevens times against the Scottish – most notably in the first-ever Six Nations game in 2000. Italy last won in 2015. Though, in fact the last time these two met in the Italian capital, the hosts played some superb rugby.
Who can remember the Tommaso Allan try set up by a rampaging Jake Polledri? The playmaker ran it in from distance that day – he finished the fixture with 22 points to his name – though the Scots clung on for a vital 29-27 win away from home.
Though putting on slick performances may not be high on the agenda for either team. Talk around the try-less Scotland team has been about disruption, the Finn Russell affair and all that surrounded the England fixture a few weeks back. For Italy, after being held scoreless against a Wales team in second gear, that irritating drone of questions about their place in the competition began again.
No wonder Scotland assistant Mike Blair said of this game that “it’s not about how you play, it’s winning games.”
With the hosts Allan told the world that, under new coach Franco Smith, “if we continue to believe and work hard on everything that is proposed to us, as we did this month, the results will not fail to arrive.”
Let’s hope that the pressure get a result leads to caution being hurled into the wind, rather than conservatism reigning. We want passion and heroes having a go. We want tension and we want the unexpected. Such moments make Italy an integral part of the Six Nations.
What’s the big team news?
The key theme is ‘consistency of selection’ for the hosts. Italy have run with the exact same starting team that lost out against France in Round Two of the tournament. Retained is inexperineced Benetton Treviso lock Niccolo Cannone, while the 10-12 axis of Tommaso allan-Carlo Canna gets another run out.
Italy’s only changes come on the bench where Marco Lanzzaroni comes back in, with Federico Ruzza dropping out.
Related: The Scotland squad
Huw Jones has been replaced by Chris Harris in one of three changes to the side for Saturday’s Six Nations match in Italy.
Ben Toolis replaces the injured Jonny Gray at lock, while hooker Stuart McInally comes in for Fraser Brown. Fagerson is joined among the replacements by Edinburgh tighthead WP Nel, who replaces Simon Berghan, while second-row Grant Gilchrist and wing Byron McGuigan take the places of the promoted Harris and Toolis.
What have the coaches said?
Italy boss Franco Smith said: “We have shown improvements against France. We want to make an important performance in front of our fans at the Olympic Stadium showing everyone our game and our true potential.”
Scotland boss Gregor Townsend: “There’s three games and we want to build on what we’ve done, especially in the first game. The second game was unique in terms of the conditions and how both teams were able to play that day.
“We want to show improvement. We want to get wins. We’ve still got three games left to do that and we’ll see where we are at the end of the championship.”
Any interesting statistics?
- Scotland’s last Six Nations score was the Sam Johnson wonder-try against England in the 75th minute, in 2019.
- This is the fifth Time Tommaso Allan will play against Scotland in the Six Nations. He has scored 43 points against them.
- Scotland’s Stuart Hogg has only scored once in Rome, dotting down in 2018.
- Allesandro Zani will reach 119 caps, equalling Martin Castrogiovanni’s caps haul for Italy.
- A crowd of over 55,000 is expected in Rome.
- Italy’s biggest winning margin in this fixture was 20 points, back in 2007. The most they have lost by is 29, in 2017.
What time does it kick off and is it on TV?
Scotland v Italy, Saturday 22 February, Murrayfield
This game kicks off at 2.15pm and will be live on ITV, and BBC Radio 5 live as well as Virgin Media One in Ireland.
Ben O’Keeffe of New Zealand, 31 is the referee. Mathieu Raynal (France) and Ben Whitehouse (Wales) are the assistants with Rowan Kitt (England) as the TMO.
What are the line-ups?
ITALY: Jayden Hayward; Mattia Bellini, Luca Morisi, Carlo Canna, Matteo Minozzi; Tommaso Allan, Callum Braley; Andrea Lovotti, Luca Bigi (captain), Giosue Zilocchi, Alessandro Zanni, Niccolo Cannone, Jake Polledri, Sebastian Negri, Brahm Steyn.
Replacements: Federico Zani, Danilo Fischetti, Marco Riccioni, Marco Lanzzaroni, Dean Budd, Giovanni Licata, Guglielmo Palazzani, Giulio Bisegni.
SCOTLAND: Stuart Hogg (captain), Sean Maitland, Chris Harris, Sam Johnson, Blair Kinghorn; Adam Hastings, Ali Price; Rory Sutherland, Stuart McInally, Zander Fagerson, Ben Toolis, Scott Cummings, Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson, Magnus Bradbury.
Replacements: Fraser Brown, Allan Dell, WP Nel, Grant Gilchrist, Matt Fagerson, George Horne, Rory Hutchinson, Byron McGuigan
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