Planet Rugby

Preview: Italy v Tonga

09th November 2012 09:13

Share:

Jacques Brunel firing up Italy

Wants a performance: Brunel

Italy will kick-off their November Test schedule with a vital fixture against Tonga as they attempt to build some confidence before taking on the All Blacks and Wallabies later this month.

June victories against Canada and the USA on foreign soil brought a boost to the Azzurri and Jacques Brunel has stressed the importance of backing the wins up in their series opener against the islanders, who boast such names as Fetu'u Vainikolo, Taniela Moa and Viliami Ma'afu.

"We have been training with the best possible squad but we're not thinking about the two games we have coming up later" revealed coach Brunel.

"We have won three of our last four games and our goal is to keep the momentum going. The only game I am thinking about is Tonga, we're not thinking about what comes later."

This year's November series has been given an added dimension as it will decide the seedings for next month's draw for World Cup 2015 in England. And while that will be an incentive for both teams, Italy will start Saturday's match as firm favourites for victory.

Tonga's last success over Italy was a 28-25 win in Leicester during the 1999 World Cup. The Azzurri have since made amends with a 36-10 victory in the 2003 World Cup and a 48-0 rout in Prato, Italy in 2005. After Saturday's game Tonga head coach Mana 'Otai will lead his side against the United States, Scotland and Premiership outfit Newcastle Falcons. Although they have been in Brescia training this week, Mana had little time in which to trim his Sea Eagles squad during a three-day training camp in Gruissan, France.

"We tried to concentrate on giving the players the tools, patterns and plays they will need during the tour without overloading them during the two-and-a-half days we had to work with," said the Tongan coach.

Despite his claims, meanwhile, Brunel appears to have one eye on the All Blacks and Wallabies Tests having left some established players on the bench. While Italy wing Mirco Bergamasco is sidelined with injury, prop Martin Castrogiovanni is in jersey eighteen.

"Both are international level props but Cittadini has played more at this early stage of the season than Castrogiovanni and in his hometown I think Lorenzo deserves the chance to start the game," added Brunel.

"Cittadini has already played in the position at the Six Nations when Castrogiovanni was injured and in recent weeks Castro has not played much with the Tigers."

Influential number eight Sergio Parisse will start and London Wasps full-back Andrea Masi makes his return having missed the June tour of North America.

"Andrea is in great physical condition, his confidence is flying and I think he will make a good contribution," said Brunel.

South African-born Tobias Botes comes in at scrum-half following a mediocre Six Nations tournament which he exited with an elbow injury against Scotland. Meanwhile, making his debut will be Tommaso Iannone, who has forced wing Giovambattista Venditti on to the bench thanks to some strong performances for Treviso and the absence of Bergamasco.

"The choice was between Iannone and Venditti, given the unavailability of Mirco Bergamasco," added Brunel.

"But he's not such a surprise inclusion. He has been strong for Treviso and also impressive in training.

"Either we wait, or we get him in there quickly, and we chose the latter option."

Prediction: Italy should use their structured game to grind out a win by around 15 points!

Rugby Union betting odds

The teams:

Italy: 15 Andrea Masi, 14 Tommaso Iannone, 13 Tommaso Benvenuti, 12 Alberto Sgarbi, 11 Luke McLean, 10 Kristopher Burton, 9 Tobias Botes, 8 Sergio Parisse (capt), 7 Robert Barbieri, 6 Alessandro Zanni, 5 Joshua Furno, 4 Quintin Geldenhuys, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini 1 Andrea Lo Cicero.
Replacements: 16 Davide Giazzon, 17 Alberto De Marchie, 18 Martin Castrogiovanni 19 Antonio Pavanello, 20 Simone Favaro, 21 Edoardo Gori, 22 Luciano Orquera, 23 Giovambattista Venditti.

Tonga: 15 Vungakoto Lilo, 14 Fetu'u Vainikolo, 13 Sukanaivalu Hufanga, 12 Sione Piukala, 11 Viliami Helu, 10 Fangatapu 'Apikotoa, 9 Taniela Moa (capt), 8 Viliami Ma'afu, 7 Sione Vaiomo'unga, 6 Sitiveni Mafi, 5 Tukulua Lokotui, 4 Joe Tu'ineau, 3 Halani 'Aulika, 2 Elvis Taione, 1 Alisona Taumalolo.
Replacements: 16 Ilaisa Ma'asi, 17 Tevita Mailau, 18 Hale T-Pole, 19 Paula Kaho, 20 Samisoni Fisilau, 21 Alipate Fatafehi, 22 Viliame Iongi, 23 Soane Tonga'uiha.

Date: Saturday, November 10
Kick-off: 15:00 local (14:00 GMT)
Venue: Stadio Mario Rigamonti, Brescia
Referee: Greg Garner (England)
Assistant referees: Alain Rolland (Ireland), Mathieu Raynal (France)
Television match official: Eric Gauzins (France)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 21
Harlequins vs Sale SharksHarlequins vs Sale Sharks Preview
Newcastle Falcons vs GloucesterNewcastle Falcons vs Gloucester Preview
Saturday , November 22
Exeter vs WaspsExeter vs Wasps Preview
London Irish vs BathLondon Irish vs Bath Preview
Sunday , November 23
Saracens vs NorthamptonSaracens vs Northampton Preview
London Welsh vs Leicester TigersLondon Welsh vs Leicester Tigers Preview
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
International Match
Saturday , November 22
Italy vs South AfricaItaly vs South Africa Preview
Scotland vs TongaScotland vs Tonga Preview
Ireland vs AustraliaIreland vs Australia Preview
Wales vs New ZealandWales vs New Zealand Preview
England vs SamoaEngland vs Samoa Preview
France vs ArgentinaFrance vs Argentina Preview
More International Match fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , November 21
Dragons vs MunsterDragons vs Munster Preview
Scarlets vs Glasgow WarriorsScarlets vs Glasgow Warriors Preview
Connacht vs ZebreConnacht vs Zebre Preview
Ulster vs OspreysUlster vs Ospreys Preview
Sunday , November 23
Treviso vs LeinsterTreviso vs Leinster Preview
Edinburgh vs Cardiff BluesEdinburgh vs Cardiff Blues Preview
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 16
Leicester Tigers 21 - 21 SaracensLeicester Tigers vs Saracens Report
Wasps 71 - 7 London WelshWasps vs London Welsh Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Ireland 49 - 7 GeorgiaIreland vs Georgia Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 15
Sale Sharks 36 - 8 London IrishSale Sharks vs London Irish Report
Bath 23 - 14 Newcastle FalconsBath vs Newcastle Falcons Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Romania 13 - 18 JapanRomania vs Japan Report
France 29 - 26 AustraliaFrance vs Australia Report
Scotland 16 - 24 New ZealandScotland vs New Zealand Report
England 28 - 31 South AfricaEngland vs South Africa Report
Tonga 40 - 12 USATonga vs USA Report
Wales 17 - 13 FijiWales vs Fiji Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 14
Gloucester 15 - 22 HarlequinsGloucester vs Harlequins Report
Northampton 18 - 24 ExeterNorthampton vs Exeter Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Italy 18 - 20 ArgentinaItaly vs Argentina Report
Canada 13 - 23 SamoaCanada vs Samoa Report
More International Match results
LV= Cup
Cardiff Blues 19 - 13 Scarlets
Ospreys 35 - 51 DragonsOspreys vs Dragons Report
Sunday , November 9
Wasps 43 - 22 London Irish
London Welsh 9 - 18 Gloucester
Leicester 29 - 13 Sale SharksLeicester vs Sale Sharks Report
More LV= Cup results
International Match
Saturday , November 8
Italy 24 - 13 SamoaItaly vs Samoa Report
Wales 28 - 33 AustraliaWales vs Australia Report
England 21 - 24 New ZealandEngland vs New Zealand Report
Georgia 9 - 23 TongaGeorgia vs Tonga Report
Ireland 29 - 15 South AfricaIreland vs South Africa Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton726
2Exeter724
3Bath724
4Saracens724
5Wasps720