Italy v Scotland: Teams and Predictions
NATIONS CUP, ROUND ONE: Scotland star Hamish Watson believes his team is strong enough to win the Nations Cup.
Scotland open their account with a match against Italy in Florence on Saturday. Gregor Townsend’s team is riding a wave of confidence after their first win away to Wales since 2002 in the final round of the Six Nations last month.
When asked if Scotland could win the Nations Cup, Watson said: “Definitely. Obviously, each game is going to be tough and pose different challenges. We never have easy games against Italy, we know how tough they are sometimes, so we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves.
“But we have quite a nice group and we have a good track record against France at Murrayfield over the last four or five years.
“We know how good they are as well, but I think we can put ourselves in a very good position to top the group and let’s see what happens.
“Winning away from home, just like winning at home, is a habit. I know that in my time with Scotland it’s been tough, we have always struggled away from home, bar a few big wins in Australia, Wales the other weekend, and Italy.
“All it takes is one or two results like that to start believing you can go to these places and win regularly.
“We know how good we are at Murrayfield and if we can get those away wins then we are going to be a real force to be reckoned with.”
Watson said the team has come a long way since their defeats to Ireland and England earlier this year.
“This is a great squad of boys; we are all very close. With the coaching staff we have got we are in a very good position to make things happen,” he said.
“But at the same time in sport things can change very quickly. All it takes is one bad result for you all to start getting a bit of stick again.
“Look where we were at after the Ireland and England games. Some of the media were on our case a bit and saying this and that and saying the coaching staff wasn’t right. It just shows that sport is a fickle old thing sometimes.
“We just need to keep going, keep performing well. We know how good we are as a group and what we are capable of, but we have to keep that at bay sometimes and prove it with results.”
Players to watch
For Italy: Paolo Garbisi is a young flyhalf with plenty of talent to take Italy forward. Jacopo Trulla is making his debut on the wing and he will get plenty of attention from the Scots. In the pack, Jake Polledri, Braam Steyn and Sebastian Negri form a dynamic loose trio.
For Scotland: Duncan Weir has a chance to shine in the No.10 jersey with Finn Russell and Adam Hastings out. Duhan van der Merwe will get another chance to impress on the wing, while Hamish Watson can be an unstoppable force at the breakdowns.
Head to head
It will be a baptism for debutant win Jacopo Trulla who will be up against one of Europe’s best in the form of Duhan van der Merwe. The back-row battle will also be an intriguing one with Jake Polledri, Braam Steyn and Sebastian Negri up against Blade Thomson, Hamish Watson and Jamie Ritchie.
@rugby365com: Scotland by five points
Italy: 15 Matteo Minozzi, 14 Jacopo Trulla, 13 Marco Zanon, 12 Carlo Canna, 11 Mattia Bellini, 10 Paolo Garbisi, 9 Marcello Violi, 8 Jake Polledri, 7 Braam Steyn, 6 Sebastian Negri, 5 Niccolò Cannone, 4 Marco Lazzaroni, 3 Giosuè Zilocchi, 2 Luca Bigi (captain), 1 Danilo Fischetti.
Replacements: 16 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 17 Simone Ferrari, 18 Pietro Ceccarelli, 19 Johan Meyer, 20 Maxime Mbanda, 21 Stephen Varney, 22 Tommaso Allan, 23 Federico Mori.
Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg (captain), 14 Darcy Graham, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Ali Price, 8 Blade Thomson, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Scott Cummings, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Stuart McInally, 1 Rory Sutherland.
Replacements: 16 George Turner, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 WP Nel, 19 Sam Skinner, 20 Nick Haining, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 James Lang, 23 Blair Kinghorn.
Date: Saturday, November 14
Venue: Stadio Artemio Franchi, Florence
Kick-off: 13.45 (12.45 GMT)
Expected weather: It will be partly cloudy with a high of 18C. Winds light and variable.
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant referees: Karl Dickson, Christophe Ridley
TMO: Wayne Barnes
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