South Africa v Italy, Witbank, June 19
Matfield expecting tough task up front
June 18, 2010
South Africa lock Victor Matfield, Australia v South Africa, Tri-Nations, Subiaco Oval, Perth, Australia, August 29, 2009
South Africa skipper Victor Matfield is expecting a huge physical showdown with Italy © Getty Images

South Africa skipper Victor Matfield is expecting a tough examination up front when they take on Italy in Witbank on Saturday.

Nick Mallett's Azzurri side arrived in South Africa with a potent weapon in their scrum and Matfield is predicting that they will use it at every opportunity.

Martin Castrogiovanni, Leonardo Ghiraldini and Salvatore Perugini start up front for the visitors and will be looking to put the squeeze on a giant Springbok pack, who will be riding high after playing their part in a demolition of Six Nations champions France last weekend.

"They have a strong scrum and we expect them to keep the ball close and try to force penalties," Matfield said. "I worked with Nick [Mallett] with the Barbarians and expect him to use a kicking game and look to put pressure on our back three with up-and-unders.

"We have focused on a lot of technical things this week. We have taken the approach of improving a lot of things by a few percent rather than one thing by 100%."

Italy will go in to battle with their talismanic skipper and No.8, Sergio Parisse, in their ranks for the first time since November 2009 and wing Mirco Bergamasco has promised plenty of fire from the tourists.

"We will enter the field to give the best knowing that we are facing the best team in the world," he said. "We will do everything to keep them under pressure all game, energy and desire to do well will not be missing."


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