Italy v Scotland
Italy v Scotland - Preview
Martyn Thomas
August 21, 2015
Can Tamasso Allan hurt Scotland again? © Getty Images

Italy play their first Rugby World Cup warm-up match following a training camp that was disrupted early on by the threat of a player strike, and subsequently by a couple of injuries to key squad members. Azzurri coach Jacques Brunel will therefore be keen to assess the state of his squad. His opposite number, Vern Cotter, meanwhile has taken the opportunity to rotate his playing side. The New Zealander will be hoping Scotland can take the positives from their trip to Ireland last week and turn them into a win.

Team news
Italy are without captain Sergio Parisse, who was struck down by a mild flu in the build-up, with vice-captain Quintin Geldenhuys leading the side from lock. Alessandro Zanni makes his return from injury in the back row, while Tomasso Allan starts at fly-half, outside of William Palazzani, who will make his first Test start. Brunel could hand debuts to half-backs Marcello Violi and Carlo Canna who have both been named on the bench.

Cotter has made 11 changes to the side that lost in Dublin, with three debutants handed the opportunity to impress. John Hardie, Rory Hughes and Stuart McInally will win their first Test cap, while scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne has been promoted from the bench to make his first Scotland start. There is also a return to action for centre Matt Scott, while Richie Gray makes his first appearance of the summer and Greig Tonks reverts back to full-back from No.10.

Key head-to-head
The last three meetings between these two sides have been incredibly close, with Scotland winning twice by one point and Italy's recent Six Nations win delivered by three. In such a tight encounter, and with the Azzurri involved, the scrum is likely to be a factor and the battle between the two skippers should be engaging. Geldenhuys and Gilchrist will both want to start fast and ensure their side has the advantage come scrum or lineout time.

Key stats
* Italy have played Scotland eight times at home, winning five and losing only three times.

* The eight wins the Azzurri have managed against Scotland home and away are the most they have secured against any major rugby-playing nation.

* Scotland have never lost more than one game in a row to Italy. They were beaten at home by the Azzurri 22-19 in their last meeting in February.

Italy are priced at 6/4 to beat Scotland in Turin by UniBet, with Cotter's side a lot shorter at 13/25.

Turin is predicted to be cloudy on Saturday evening with a temperature around 19 degrees. In theory, the cooler conditions could play into the visitors' hands.

Scotland coach Cotter has not come under too much pressure for poor results since taking the job, but if his side were to lose in Turin then the clouds could start to gather. It will not be a formality for the visitors, however, with their hosts playing their first warm-up match they should be able to secure a morale-boosting win.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

Live Sports

Communication error please reload the page.