International Rugby: Italy v Fiji Preview

The Azzurri and Flying Fijians will lock horns for the second time this year when they square off at the Stadio Angelo Massimino this Saturday the 11th of October.

Connor O'Shea's Italy will be looking to avenge their 22-19 defeat at the hands of Fiji when they host the Islanders out in Catania. The last game between the sides was extremely dramatic with a late Ben Volovola drop goal seeing the Fijians snatch victory as it looked set to end in a draw.

Hopefully, there's a similar spectacle in store this time around.
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Italy v Fiji | Saturday 11 November | Stadio Angelo Massimino | 16:00

To Win (80 Mins)
Italy 4/10 | Draw 18/1 | Fiji 2/1
Handicap
Italy (-5.5) 9/10 | Fiji (+5.5) 9/10

Italy

The Italians have failed to follow-up on an outstanding 2016 campaign, losing the majority of their 2017 Tests. A poor Six Nations campaign, in which they failed to win a game, was followed up with a dismal June tour which saw them lose to Scotland (13-34), an Australia team in crisis (40-27) and Fiji (22-19).

There are a few mitigating factors for the Italians poor showing this year. The biggest of which was the loss of talismanic skipper Sergio Parrisee who, along with veterans Leonardo Ghiraldini and Lorenzo Cittadini, were left out of Italy's mid-year touring squad to recuperate from a heavy 2016 schedule. All three of the aforementioned veterans will be back this weekend, which will greatly enhance this Italian squad.

Fiji

The Fijians have enjoyed a very productive 2017 winning the World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup and registering June International wins over both Italy and a Britsh and Irish Lions-less Scotland. The Islanders also have one of the most in-form backs in World Rugby among their squad in winger, Nemani Nadolo. The big man has been in sensational form for his Top 14 club Montpellier and could prove a handful for the Italian backs if he is called up to the side - the big man is currently on standby at the time of writing.

It's actually been a great building year for the Fijians, who had a side included in Australia's premier domestic tournament, the National Rugby Championship. The Fijian Drua, as they were called, enjoyed a magnificent debut campaign and made it all the way to the semi-finals. Their inclusion in the tournament has gone a long way to opening the door for locally based players to get into the national side, with Drua representatives Joeli Veitayaki, Mosese Ducivaki, Ratunaisa Navuma, Mosese Voka, Frank Lomani and Alivereti Veitokani all included in the touring squad.

Verdict: Fiji (+5.5) 9/10 
Fiji have actually won three of the last five contest between the sides, although it must be noted that all these victories came when they were on home soil. Their last outing to Italy saw them go down by just six points and I fancy that they'll stay within the +5.5 handicap this weekend. 



Written by Darry Worthington for @Hollywoodbets.net

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