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 , October 3
Bath vs Saracens19:45
Saturday , October 4
London Irish vs Northampton15:00
Harlequins vs London Welsh15:00
Gloucester vs Leicester15:15
Sunday , October 5
Sale vs Wasps14:00
Newcastle vs Exeter15:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
Rugby Championship
Saturday , October 4
South Africa vs New Zealand16:05
Argentina vs Australia23:40
More Rugby Championship fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , October 3
Connacht vs Cardiff Blues19:35
Ulster vs Edinburgh19:35
Zebre vs Ospreys19:35
Saturday , October 4
Leinster vs Munster18:30
Sunday , October 5
Benetton Treviso vs Glasgow14:00
Scarlets vs Newport Gwent D'gons16:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , October 3
Oyonnax vs Toulon20:45
Saturday , October 4
Bordeaux-Begles vs Clermont Auvergne14:45
Racing Metro Paris vs Brive18:30
Bayonne vs Montpellier18:30
La Rochelle vs Lyon18:30
Castres vs Grenoble18:30
Toulouse vs Stade Francais20:45
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , October 3
Pumas vs Blue Bulls15:00
Sharks vs Lions19:10
Saturday , October 4
Cheetahs vs Western Province14:00
Griquas vs Eastern Province Kings15:00
More Currie Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
ITM Cup
Wednesday, October 1
Hawkes Bay 36 - 14 WellingtonHawkes Bay vs Wellington Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , September 28
Wasps 35 - 18 NewcastleWasps vs Newcastle Report
Exeter 36 - 13 HarlequinsExeter vs Harlequins Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Newport Gwent D'gons 33 - 15 Benetton TrevisoNewport Gwent D
More Guinness PRO12 results
ITM Cup
Tasman 32 - 24 OtagoTasman vs Otago Report
Canterbury 26 - 28 SouthlandCanterbury vs Southland Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , September 27
Leicester 19 - 22 London IrishLeicester vs London Irish Report
Saracens 40 - 19 Sale SharksSaracens vs Sale Sharks Report
Northampton 31 - 24 BathNorthampton vs Bath Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Rugby Championship
South Africa 28 - 10 AustraliaSouth Africa vs Australia Report
Argentina 13 - 34 New ZealandArgentina vs New Zealand Report
More Rugby Championship results
Guinness PRO12
Zebre 13 - 6 UlsterZebre vs Ulster Report
Munster 14 - 19 OspreysMunster vs Ospreys Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Toulon 40 - 17 MontpellierToulon vs Montpellier Report
Grenoble 27 - 25 Racing Metro ParisGrenoble vs Racing Metro Paris Report
Brive 34 - 24 Bordeaux-Begles
Oyonnax 8 - 19 Clermont Auvergne
Stade Francais 43 - 10 La Rochelle
Lyon 28 - 18 Castres
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Sharks 53 - 24 Eastern Province KingsSharks vs Eastern Province Kings Report
Griquas 8 - 46 LionsGriquas vs Lions Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Waikato 20 - 22 ManawatuWaikato vs Manawatu Report
North Harbour 28 - 25 Hawkes Bay
Counties Manukau 55 - 7 WellingtonCounties Manukau vs Wellington Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 26
London Welsh 10 - 46 GloucesterLondon Welsh vs Gloucester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens418
2Northampton416
3Bath415
4Exeter414
5Wasps411