Italy aim historic win

Italy aim historic win
By Reuters

18/03/2006 at 14:12Updated

Italy coach Pierre Berbizier has told his players to keep their feet on the ground as they aim to seal their best Six Nations campaign with a win against Scotland at Rome's Stadio Flaminio on Saturday.

Victory over Scotland would give Italy three points - their highest total since they were admitted to the competition in 2000.

The Azzurri go into the game full of confidence after they earned their first-ever away point with an 18-18 draw against Wales last week.

It was the least they deserved after holding second-half leads in all of their matches so far.

"We have to maintain our concentration, remind ourselves every moment that this year Scotland have beaten England and France. Saturday's match will be difficult. It is far from a formality.

"We have to continue to improve and stay realistic. We are better than we were at the start of the tournament, but we continue to play against teams that are on a slightly higher level than us."

Berbizier has made three changes from the Wales team. Fullback Cristian Stoica, who came on as a second-half replacement, comes back into the starting 15 for tryscorer Ezio Galon.

The other two changes are in the front row where first-choice hooker Fabio Ongaro has recovered from flu to reclaim his place from Carlo Festuccia and Martin Castrogiovanni replaces Carlos Nieto, who damaged knee ligaments against Wales.

Maurizio Zaffiri continues to stand in for key flanker Mauro Bergamasco, who also missed the Wales match with injury.

A potentially bigger problem for Italy is the form of flyhalf Ramiro Pez, who was rock-solid during the November tests, but whose wayward kicking cost Italy victory against the Welsh.

It could be Pez, after all, who Italy rely upon to kick them to victory against the Scots, whose defence has conceded only five tries in the competition so far and who will be hoping to reproduce their excellent Murrayfield form on the road for the first time this year.

As Berbizier has reminded his squad, the Scots still stand a chance of winning the tournament, albeit extremely slim.

A victory in Rome and defeats for Ireland and France would leave four teams on six points, and it would then come down to score difference, though England, Ireland and France all have a large advantage over Scotland.

Scotland coach Frank Hadden has accepted his team are out of the running by opting to experiment with a new halfback partnership of Chris Cusiter and Gordon Ross in place of Mike Blair and Dan Parks.

"Speaking with my World Cup hat on, we have to get the most of all our players. This is an opportunity to do this," said Hadden.

"It's not a reflection on the other guys. They understand that we have to develop players in the squad.

Hadden's other change is at hooker, where Scott Lawson starts ahead of Doug Hall, who injured his shoulder against last week's 15-9 defeat to Ireland - where Scotland's lineout was dreadful - and drops back to the bench.

Follow the clash between Italy and Scotland live on Saturday from 14:30 cet!!!


Italy: 15-Cristian Stoica; 14-Pablo Canavosio, 13-Gonzalo Canale, 12-Mirco Bergamasco, 11-Ludovico Nitoglia; 10-Ramiro Pez, 9-Paul Griffen; 8-Josh Sole, 7-Maurizio Zaffiri, 6-Sergio Parisse, 5-Marco Bortolami (captain), 4-Santiago Dellape, 3-Martin Castrogiovanni, 2-Fabio Ongaro, 1-Salvatore Perugini.
Replacements: 16-Carlo Festuccia, 17-Andrea Lo Cicero, 18-Carlo Antonio Del Fava, 19-Alessandro Zanni, 20-Simon Picone, 21-Rima Wakarua, 22-Ezio Galon.

Scotland: 15-Hugo Southwell; 14-Chris Paterson, 13-Marcus Di Rollo, 12-Andy Henderson, 11-Sean Lamont; 10-Gordon Ross, 9-Chris Cusiter; 8-Simon Taylor, 7-Allister Hogg, 6-Jason White (captain), 5-Scott Murray, 4-Nathan Hines, 3-Bruce Douglas 2-Scott Lawson, 1-Gavin Kerr.
Replacements: 16-Doug Hall, 17-Craig Smith, 18-Alastair Kellock, 19-Jon Petrie, 20-Mike Blair, 21-Dan Parks, 22-Simon Webster.

Referee: Allain Rolland (Ireland)