Azzuri out to maintain pressure
September 25, 2011
Italy's Tommaso Benvenuti offloads during the clash with Russia © Getty Images
Italy will seek to keep the pressure on their Pool C rivals with a bonus-point victory over the United States at Trafalgar Park on Tuesday.
The Azzuri currently lie third in the Pool with five points, five behind the Wallabies, with a game in hand over their rivals. A convincing bonus-point win would put them level on points with Australia ahead of their final clash with Ireland - in which a win would see the Italians progress to the quarter finals, probably at the expense of the Irish.
The United States have had a mixed tournament after impressing in defeat to Ireland and overcoming rivals Russia to conceding 67 points to the Wallabies in Wellington last time out.
Italy - Player to Watch: Mauro Bergamasco, who has won 86 caps for his country, has the opportunity to secure a starting slot for the showdown with Ireland following a year disrupted by injury.
Italy - Team News: Luke McLean and Tommaso Benvenuti are the only survivors from the back-line which started against Russia in midweek. Andrea Masi had been due to start at fullback but was a late withdrawal from the side due to a calf strain with McLean getting the nod at fullback. Mirco Bergamasco, Luciano Orquera and fabio Semenzato are recalled in the backs while Alessandro Zanni, Cornelius van Zyl, Leonardo Ghiraldini and Martin Castrogiovanni all come in upfront.
United States - Player to Watch: Biarritz winger Takudzwa Ngwenya has had few opportunities to show his devastating pace for the US Eagles and, returning to the side, he will be determined to make an impact after his fireworks in 2007.
United States - Team News: There is only one survivor from the side routed by the Wallabies on Friday, with Hayden Smith retaining his place in the second-row. Mike MacDonald, Chris Biller and Matekigonga Moekiola are recalled to the front-row, while Nic Johnson will be flanked by Louis Stanfill and Todd Clever, who will skipper the side, at the base of the scrum.
Key Battle: If the US Eagles are to gain the possession and platform to set their exciting backs running, loose-head prop Mike MacDonald and his tight-five companions must front up against a highly experienced Italian pack.
Trivia: The US Eagles will be searching for their first win over the Azzuri.
Stats: Eight of Italy's ten most capped players are in the squad to face the US Eagles.
"If you look at the match (the USA in their loss to Australia on Friday), they have a really, really physical pack of forwards and we have to match that physicality." Quintin Geldenhuys is wary of the aggressive US Eagles
"I'm not saying we'll beat Italy. That would be an arrogant thing to say, but I think we can test Italy and see what they've got." - US Eagles coach Eddie O'Sullivan is in bullish mood ahead of the clash with Italy
Prediction: Italy to overpower the US Eagles upfront and dominate at the breakdown allowing their backs to secure a bonus-point victory
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