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Six Nations | Group Stage
Mar 9, 2024 at 2.15pm UK
Ignacio Brex (14'), Lynagh (43'), Varney (56')
Fagerson (5'), Steyn (11'), Schoeman (27'), Skinner (77')

Preview: Italy vs. Scotland - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Six Nations clash between Italy and Scotland, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

The penultimate round of the 2024 Six Nations will get underway on Saturday afternoon, with an improving Italy taking on the current number one contenders for the title, Scotland, at Stadio Olimpico.

Despite showing major improvement this year, Italy will enter round four of the competition at the bottom of the table with three points, while the visitors are in second place with nine points after the first three rounds.

Match preview

Italy's Ange Capuozzo reacts after the match on February 25, 2024© Reuters

Italy came tantalizingly close to securing a historic victory in Paris in the last round, proving their ability to compete with even the best teams in the world and once again showcasing their year-on-year improvement.

Despite conceding the first 10 points of the match, the Azzurri mounted a resilient comeback against the 14 men of France in the second half. Their efforts culminated in a converted try by Ange Capuozzo, which levelled the scores at 71 minutes, but late heartbreak ensued for Paolo Garbisi and the team.

Gonzalo Quesada's side were given a golden opportunity to secure what would have been a famous victory when they were awarded a last-minute penalty, but unfortunately for the Italians, it was not to be as Garbisi's kick struck the upright, forcing them to settle for a draw.

Indeed, while Six Nations victories continue to elude the Azzuri, it has not been due to a lack of effort as they also showed their mettle by pushing England all the way in their opening match, ultimately succumbing to a narrow 27-24 defeat.

While the hosts remain at the bottom of the standings at the moment, they have now accumulated three points, equaling the tally of Wales, whom they are scheduled to visit in the final round of matches.

Scotland's Huw Jones reacts on February 3, 2024© Reuters

Scotland surged into second position in the standings with a 30-21 victory over England at home in round three, marking their fourth consecutive win over their old foes and their third successive victory over their neighbours in this competition.

Despite conceding the first 10 points of the match, they rallied to lead 17-14, with Duhan Van der Merwe's hat-trick of tries proving pivotal, although he was later shown a yellow card in the final stages.

Most from a Scottish persuasion will likely feel that they should have been heading to Italy with three wins out of three, which would have added an extra layer of excitement to their final-round showdown against Ireland next week.

However, their hopes of maintaining a perfect record were dashed as they suffered a narrow defeat to France last month under controversial circumstances, when a late TMO call went against them, snatching away what would have been a huge victory.

That game followed a very different sort of contest in the opening week of the competition, when it was they that were holding on for dear life at the death, with Wales mustering a tremendous fightback from 27-0 down, but the Dragons came up short by a single point.

Still, Scotland's success to this point is merited and their cohesion not only in attack but also in defense is likely to pose a significant challenge for any side that they come up against.

Italy Six Nations form:

  • L
  • L
  • D

Italy form (all competitions):

  • W
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • D

Scotland Six Nations form:

  • W
  • L
  • W

Scotland form (all competitions):

  • W
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • W

Team News

Italy's Montanna Ioane celebrates scoring their third try on September 27, 2023© Reuters

For Saturday's Six Nations Test against Scotland in Rome, Quesada has implemented four changes to his starting lineup, most notably handing a Test debut to former Harlequins winger Louis Lynagh.

With Lynagh's inclusion, Tommaso Menoncello moves from the right wing to inside centre, taking over from Federico Mori, who filled the position during Italy's 13-13 draw with France in the last round.

In the forward pack, the imposing blindside flanker Sebastian Negri is poised to make his comeback after recovering from a rib injury he sustained during Italy's Six Nations opener against England in Rome last month.

Gregor Townsend has opted to bring in Cameron Redpath to partner Huw Jones in midfield, owing to Sione Tuipulotu suffering a tournament-ending injury during the side's Calcutta Cup triumph.

The other change in the backline is the inclusion of George Horne joining co-captain Finn Russell at half-back, with Ben White being excluded entirely from the matchday 23.

The final change for Scotland is in the back row, as Jamie Ritchie finds himself omitted from the starting 15 once again, with Townsend opting to give Andy Christie a chance from the start.

Italy starting lineup: 15 Ange Capuozzo, 14 Louis Lynagh, 13 Juan Ignacio Brex, 12 Tommaso Menoncello, 11 Monty Ioane, 10 Paolo Garbisi, 9 Martin Page-Relo, 8 Ross Vintcent, 7 Michele Lamaro (c), 6 Sebastian Negri, 5 Federico Ruzza, 4 Niccolo Cannone, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Giacomo Nicotera, 1 Danilo Fischetti

Replacements: 16 Gianmarco Lucchesi, 17 Spanish Mirco, 18 Giosue Zilocchi, 19 Andrea Zambonin, 20 Lorenzo Cannone, 21 Stephen Varney, 22 Leonardo Marin, 23 Federico Mori

Scotland starting lineup: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Kyle Steyn, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Cameron Redpath, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Finn Russell (cc), 9 George Horne, 8 Jack Dempsey, 7 Rory Darge (cc), 6 Andy Christie, 5 Scott Cummings, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 George Turners, 1 Pierre Schoeman

Replacements: 16 Ewan Ashman, 17 Alec Hepburn, 18 Elliot Millar-Mills, 19 Sam Skinner, 20 Jamie Ritchie, 21 Matt Fagerson, 22 Ali Price, 23 Kyle Row

SM words green background

We say: Italy 24-29-Y Scotland

Scotland are worthy favourites heading into this clash, but one thing is for certain: Italy will not make this easy for the visitors. This should be a very entertaining start to the weekend's rugby action, and we are backing the Scots to claim a narrow victory to set up a grandstand finish to the competition at the Aviva Stadium next week.

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England's Chandler Cunningham-South and Theo Dan celebrate after the match on February 2, 2024
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