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2018 SIX NATIONS Preview: Italy vs Scotland {17-3-18}

Italy will be looking for their first win of Six Nations 2018 when they welcome Scotland to the Stadio Olimpico in Rome on Super Saturday.

Scotland’s last defeat in Rome came back in 2012. In the six seasons since then, Scotland have only lost one of their nine fixtures against Italy – and have won the last five meetings between the two countries.

And it appears Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has no intention of taking his foot off the gas as the tournament nears its completion, naming his most experienced squad since his tenure began.

Townsend said: “We’ve had a deeper look at the Ireland game, where we performed well in areas that will have to be better this weekend.

“There were a number of positives in how we took the game to Ireland in attack and defence but this didn’t lead to us scoring enough points to win the game.

“We’ve been pleased with how the players have responded to last week’s disappointment, with the energy they have brought to training and a determination to improve our performance in our final match in this year’s Six Nations.

“Playing Italy will be a very tough game – it always has been for any Scotland side. We are ready for the challenge and have an experienced group of players working hard to finish our campaign with a positive performance and result.”

Italy, meanwhile, will need to start and finish better. They have conceded at least one try in the first 10 minutes of every game they have played, while in the last 20 minutes of their matches they have conceded nine tries.

Since beating South Africa in November 2016, the Italians have only managed one victory (against Fiji) in 16 matches since then. Come Saturday, they will be desperate to turn this miserable run of form around.

Previous results:

2017: Scotland won 34-13 in Singapore
2017: Scotland won 29-00 in Edinburgh
2016: Scotland won 36-20 in Rome
2015: Scotland won 48-07 in Edinburgh
2015: Scotland won 16-12 in Torino
2015: Italy won 22-19 in Edinburgh
2014: Scotland won 21-20 in Rome
2013: Scotland won 30-29 in Pretoria
2013: Scotland won 34-10 in Edinburgh

The teams:

Italy: 15 Matteo Minozzi, 14 Tommaso Benvenuti, 13 Giulio Bisegni, 12 Tommaso Castello, 11 Mattia Bellini, 10 Tommaso Allan, 9 Marcello Violi, 8 Sergio Parisse, 7 Jake Polledri, 6 Sebastian Negri, 5 Dean Budd, 4 Alessandro Zanni, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Andrea Lovotti
Replacements: 16 Oliviero Fabiani, 17 Nicola Quaglio, 18 Tiziani Pasquali, 19 Abraham Steyn, 20 Giovanni Licata, 21 Guglielmo Palazzani, 22 Carlo Canna, 23 Jayden Hayward

Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Nick Grigg, 11 Sean Maitland, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Greig Laidlaw, 8 Ryan Wilson, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 John Barclay (c), 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Tim Swinson, 3 WP Nel, 2 Fraser Brown, 1 Gordon Reid
Replacements: 16 Stuart McInally, 17 Jamie Bhatti, 18 Zander Fagerson, 19 Richie Gray, 20 David Denton, 21 Ali Price, 22 Pete Horne, 23 Blair Kinghorn

Date: Saturday, March 17
Venue: Stadio Olimpico, Rome
Kick-off: 13:30 local (12:30 GMT)
Referee: Pascal Gaüzère (France)
Assistant referees: Jérôme Garcès (France), Andrew Brace (Ireland)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)



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