Preview: Canada v Italy

Date published: June 25 2016

Italy will want to stamp their authority as a non-minnow nation when they play Canada in Toronto this weekend.

Italy won 24-20 against the USA last weekend but the Azzurri, who play against some of the best sides in the world on a frequent basis in the 6 Nations, won't be satisifed with the result and will need to improve against Canada. 

The Azzurri weren't great against the States if their stats are anything to go by. They missed 15 tackles on the day and were pretty even with the Eagles on every other front throughout the game.  

It was new Italy coach Conor O'Shea's first win with the side after a close 30-24 loss to Argentina in Santa Fe. 

Canada will be brimming with confidence after scoring six tries to clobber Russia in Calgary. The Canadians beat the Bears 46-21 but will know that Italy are a different kettle of fish. 

Canada coach Mark Anscombe believes their incoming tour is more about development than anything else.

"We want to keep growing … This is our last game after four weeks together. The progress is important and we have to keep showing that. The boys have trained well and the spirits are high," Anscombe told Canada Rugby.

The former Baby Black coach also lauded the Argentine physicality.

"They have a lot of the same faces and are very strong … They’re very forward orientated, good strong scrum, good mauling lineout and like to play a power game and we’re going to have to be very alert."

Italy has made five changes to his side that played USA last week. In the back-line, there are four changes with David Odiete moving from the left wing to take over from Luke McLean at full-back and Giovanbattista Venditti coming in to wear the number 11 jersey. Meanwhile, Angelo Esposito replaces Leonardo Sarto on the right wing with Tommaso Boni preferred to Tommaso Castello at inside centre and Tommaso Allan takes over from Carlo Canna at fly-half. The final change is in the forwards where Maxime Mbanda’ replaces Robert Barbieri on the blindside flank.

Canada's only change is Mozac Samson being replaced by Ciaran Hearn at 13 is the only change to the side.

Players to watch:

For Canada: Scotland born Gordon McRorie was a points machine for Canada last week. McRorie was excellent on the tee kicking over 5 conversions and two penalties. The wily number nine also added 10 points to his tally through two tries. He also made four line breaks. Italy will underestimate McRorie at their peril. 

For Italy: Italy hooker Ornel Gega was in fine form for his side last week and depite his defensive lapses he scored two tries which saved his team from an embarrassing loss against the American Eagles. Canada have a strong forward pack and decent set pieces so it will be up to the Albanian-born hooker to ruin their party. 

Head to Head: The battle of the sixes could become vital as Maxime Mbanda faces off against Kyle Baillie. Both players had sumblime games last wekk for different reasons. Mbanda was excellent on attack as he seemeed to break the line at will while simutaneously putting his team into space. Baillie made a whopping nine tackles, while doing an incredible job of organising the breakdown. Expect conflict between these two on Sunday. 

Prediciton: Canada look strong at home and are an incredibly physical outfit but the Italians should have too much experience and will ride the home side's intensity out. ITALY by 10.  

Previous results: 
2015: Italy won 23-18 in Leeds
2012: Italy won 25-16 in Toronto
2006: Italy won 41-6 in Fontanafredda
2004: Italy won 51-6 in  L'Aquila
2003: Italy won 19-14 in Canberra
2000: Canada won 22-17 in Rovigo

The Teams:

Canada: 15 Matt Evans, 14 Dan Moor, 13 Ciaran Hearn, 12 Nick Blevins, 11 Taylor Paris, 10 Pat Parfrey, 9 Gordon McRorie, 8 Aaron Carpenter, 7 Lucas Rumball, 6 Kyle Baillie, 5 Evan Olmstead, 4 Jamie Cudmore (c), 3 Jake Ilnicki, 2 Ray Barkwill, 1 Djustice Sears-Duru
Replacements: 16 Eric Howard, 17 Tom Dolezel, 18 Matt Tierney, 19 Paul Ciulini, 20 Matt Heaton, 21 Jamie Mackenzie, 22 Liam Underwood, 23 Brock Staller

Italy: 15 David Odiete, 14 Angelo Esposito, 13 Michele Campagnaro, 12 Tommaso Boni, 11 Giovanbattista Venditti, 10 Tommaso Allan, 9 Edoardo Gori (c), 8 Andries Van Schalkwyk, 7 Simone Favaro, 6 Maxime Mbanda’, 5 Marco Fuser, 4 Quintin Geldenhuys, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Ornel Gega, 1 Andrea Lovotti 
Replacements: 16 Tommaso D’Apice, 17 Sami Panico, 18 Pietro Ceccarelli, 19 Sebastian Negri Da Oleggio, 20 Jacopo Sarto, 21 Guglielmo Palazzani, 22 Carlo Canna, 23 Giulio Bisegni

Date: Sunday, June 26
Venue: BMO Field, Toronto
Kick-off: 12:00 local (16:00 GMT)
Referee: Alexandre Ruiz (France)
Assistant Referees: Shuhei Kubo (Japan), Kurt Weaver (USA)