Date: Saturday 20th August
Location: Murrayfield, Scotland
Referee: Dave Pearson (England)
Fielding a team with 14 changes to the side that won against Ireland two weeks ago, Andy Robinson is making the most of this last opportunity to experiment before naming his final squad.
The only player to survive is Graeme Morrison, at inside centre; the rest of the team contains the names that many expected to see line up the other weeks.
Alastair Kellock takes the captaincy, and is likely to keep it throughout the RWC, and Chris Cusiter makes his return, albeit on the bench, from injury and playing in Australia.
Fresh from victory over Japan, Nick Mallett has made 11 changes to the side. Fielding what is most likely to be his first choices in the front row: Martin Castrogiovanni, Leonardo Ghiraldini and Andrea Lo Cicero.
Sergio Parisse will captain the side, and those who saw the game against Japan will see that Cornelius Van Zyl makes his first start for Italy, after impressing off of the bench in the previous game.
What to expect:
With both sides fielding stronger teams, we should expect a battle on the pitch. And with this being both teams’ last game before heading out to New Zealand there is everything to play for. It should be a game with pace and I would think a few tries too.
All eyes on:
Richie Vernon: One of the newest members of Sale Sharks, Vernon has played for Scotland eleven times before, however most of these have been off of the bench. Lining up alongside Kelly Brown and John Barclay, Vernon takes the Number 8 position. This is one that he is used to, and he should hold his own against his Italian counterpart.
Cornelius Van Zyl: Born in South Africa, Van Zyl plays his club rugby in Treviso. This will be the 32 year old lock’s first cap for his country, a little late to start perhaps, but maybe better late than never. He faces stiff opposition from the likes of Alastair Kellock and Nathan Hines, and it will be interesting to see how he fares against these two.
Head to Head: The Front Rows
There is no doubt that the Italians have the stronger front row, however the Scots have a determined front row, which should play out in the scrums and rucks. Euan Murray makes his return to the Scottish front row after recovering from injury and will want to make his mark on the game. It should be an interesting battle, but ultimately one in which strength will prevail.
On the final day of the Six Nations the Italians made the trip to Murrayfield, and Scotland ended their disappointing competition with a win over the visitors 21 – 8
Sunny intervals, 19° light breeze.
Another win for the home side, but they will concede one try, perhaps two. Scotland by 7.