The Wooden Spoon match looks as though it could be a close one this year, and it’s always difficult to predict when it’s played in Rome.
I do feel very sorry for the Scots and I was cheering them on against the Welsh. I was disappointed for them not to hold on for the win, and if I was disappointed, imagine how they felt.
I’m concerned about their mindset after that demoralising defeat, as well as the news of various serious injuries to important players like Chris Paterson and Thom Evans. Regrouping with a game at Murrayfield would have been far preferable to a trip to Italy to face a stubborn outfit that won’t give anything away. Paterson could be badly missed in a tight game, and as well as Dan Parks played against Wales, I’d rather have Paterson lining up to kick the goals.
Scotland’s back row will be important, and it’s good news for Andy Robinson that Kelly Brown, John Barclay and Johnnie Beattie have been playing superbly so far in this campaign. England’s back row were largely anonymous in their clash with the Azzurri, and this was the root of many of their problems with a lack of quick ball.
Italy’s chances were written off when they played so poorly in Dublin in Round 1, but a more spirited display last time out showed a real improvement, and if they step up their game once again, Scotland could be in trouble.
They will have targeted this match as one to win, and buoyed by their efforts against England, their spirits could be a lot higher than Scotland’s. Home advantage will be a factor, and if Italy get ahead early on, it could be a very uncomfortable afternoon for Scotland. It’s likely to be close, and probably not hugely exciting, but I’m going for Italy.
My SportGuru prediction is Italy by 5