Italy eye more history against Scotland
February 7, 2013
Can Italy notch back-to-back Six Nations victories for on the second time in Championship history? © Getty Images
Head to Head
Italy will hope to make Six Nations history when they tackle Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday.
The Azzurri wrapped up their 2012 campaign with victory over Scotland and opened their account this year with a stunning win against France - as a result they have the chance to record three successive Six Nations victories for the first time. It is a feat that eluded them in 2007 when, having accounted for Scotland and Wales, Ireland proved too strong with the Scots standing in their way this time. It is a challenge they are sure to relish having recorded six previous Six Nations victories against Scotland - including one at Murrayfield.
Scotland enter the game under increasing pressure having been beaten by England in their opener. Interim head coach Scott Johnson conjured a much-improved performance from his side but they remain without a win in their last four Tests - a run that included an embarrassing home defeat to Tonga.
This fixture has more often than not decided the destination of the wooden spoon and will no doubt go a long way to deciding who will finish bottom of the table but a bullish Italy will have their eyes on a greater return from this year's championship.
Scotland - Player to Watch: Stuart Hogg produced a dazzling display against England to boost his Lions hopes - a similar showing against the Italians and he will be a step nearer to getting on the plane Down Under.
Scotland - Team News: Scotland have made two changes with hooker Ross Ford and flanker Rob Harley both getting the nod. Ford, who was dropped for the match with England, gets the nod at hooker in place of Dougie Hall who was initially bracketed on the bench due to a knee injury with Pat MacArthur now providing cover. Harley, who has just one substitute appearance to his name, takes the place of injured Alasdair Strokosch.
Italy - Player to Watch: Luciano Orquera was a revelation against France with his energy and creativity a key factor in his side's victory - can he prove that was not a one-off?
Italy - Team News: Italy have made one change with centre Gonzalo Canale replacing the injured Alberto Sgarbi. Coach Jacque Brunel has kept faith with the side that beat France last with Sgarbi being forced to make way having picked up an ankle injury. As a result Canale, who has recovered from a thigh injury suffered in the same game, is promoted from the replacements for what will be his first start since last year's Six Nations with Zebre's Gonzalo Garcia coming onto the bench.
Key Battle: Scotland's in-form No.8 Johnnie Beattie has been earning rave reviews of late but his Italian counterpart Sergio Parisse has been sweeping up Man of the Match honours for the past decade - who will come out on top at Murrayfield?
Trivia: A loss against Italy this weekend would condemn Scotland to their sixth consecutive loss at home - their worst sequence of results there since 1954.
Stats: Andrea Lo Cicero will win his 100th Test cap for Italy and in doing so becomes only the second Italian player to do so behind Alessandro Troncon (101 caps). Lo Cicero made his debut in the 59-12 loss to England in the 2000 Six Nations.
Betting: Could Italy cement their growing reputation with back-to-back Six Nations victories? Best365 are offering 9/1 for an Italy victory between 11-15 points. Or do you fancy Scotland to come flying out the block like they did last weekend? Best365 will pay 5/1 if the Scots open the scoring with a try.
"We didn't win the contact area so we were never going to win the contest. England won every contact."
"Our defence was unbelievable, and against any team in the world, if you put them under pressure with your defence they can't carry the ball forward."
Prediction: Expect an Italy side fired by belief in the wake of their victory over France to claim a rare win away from home and give the Scots further food for thought.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Concussion, relegation and the mother of all surprises - it's the Monday Maul.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies