June Internationals: Italy v Scotland Preview

 2017-June-Incoming-Series-Preview-Italy-v-Scotland

A weakened Scotland side square off with Italy at the Singapore National Stadium this Saturday. 

Italy, without a win since their infamous victory over the Springboks last November, take on Scotland this Saturday in a historic first Test match to be played between tier-one nations in Singapore. Connor O’Shea’s bunch will be looking to put their six-match losing streak behind them, while Scotland, without three of their most influential players, will set their sights on beginning their new era under Gregor Townsend, in the best possible fashion.

Italy v Scotland | Saturday 10 June | Singapore National Stadium | 14h00

To Win (80 Mins)
Italy 11/2 | Draw 28/1 | Scotland 1/10
Handicap
Italy | Scotland * Handicap To Be Added Upon Release


Italy

O’Shea stressed the importance of Italy using these upcoming Tests as a means of blooding new players, with an eye on improving the game over in Azzurri country in the years to come. “Our goal is not to be winning World Cups, it is to change Italian rugby for the future. Scottish rugby has shown that if you make the right changes, you can make rapid strides and catch up very quickly.”
To this end, many new caps are set to take to the field this weekend, especially in the absence of a few seasoned Italian veterans. The captaincy has been handed to scrumhalf Edoardo Gori in the Sergio Parisse-less starting XV, and he will be well supported by the rock-solid Tommaso Allan at first-five-eighth.

Just a handful of the side set to take to the field this weekend played in the 29-0 drubbing to the same opponents in March, which may bode well for these young guns. Newly crowned Aviva Premiership champion, Michelle Campagnaro gets a start at 13 after missing the previous fixture between the two sides through injury, and he will be keen to impress after a rather mediocre last few months with Exeter. The Italians will look to the set-pieces to gain ascendency, and the scrum battle is sure to be a very interesting one indeed.



Scotland
The departure of Vern Cotter marks the end of a short, but very successful period in Scottish rugby – indeed, the wily old Kiwi is largely credited with bringing back a mini-resurgence in the country’s rugby playing fortunes. Gregor Townsend (formerly of the Glasgow Warriors) steps into the breach, as he looks to continue the upward trajectory of the Celtic nation. His six-years spent at Glasgow, as well as a previous stint as Scotland assistant coach, would have sharpened the former British & Irish Lion’s knowledge of the Scottish game, and he is sure to advance their cause in the seasons ahead.

Townsend has made nine changes to the side that downed Italy 29-0 in their final Six Nations match two-months ago. In the absence of captain Greig Laidlaw, who is on tour with the Lions in New Zealand, experienced back rower John Barclay has been named as the stand-in skipper, and will be joined in the loose-trio by Josh Strauss and John Hardie. A new lock-pairing sees Tim Swinson and Ben Toolis link up, while WP Nel makes a welcome return to the front-row after being sidelined for close to a year. He is joined by fellow prop Allan Dell, with the 107-capped Ross Ford at hooker.
No Laidlaw gives the impressive Ali Price a start at scrumhalf, while surprise Lions omission, Finn Russell, gets the nod at 10. Matt Scott and Alex Dunbar are the centres, while the back-three consists of wingers Tim Visser and Damien Hoyland, and fullback Duncan Taylor (in the absence of Lions’ duo Tommy Seymour and Stuart Hogg).

Verdict: Scotland 1/10
Despite both teams starting from scratch in a sense, with no real cohesiveness in either side as of yet; Scotland should still take the “W”. With injuries sure to mount on the Lions tour to New Zealand, any of the Scottish lads could receive a phone call from Warren Gatland as a replacement. Each of them will want to prove they deserved to be on that plane, and they’ll see Scotland home by seven or more.

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Written by Shaun Goosen for @Hollywoodbets.net!



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