Ireland v Italy in Rome (6 Nations)
Venue: Stadio Flaminio
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Ireland has made some changes to the side that won convincingly against Argentina and fought well against the All Blacks, in November. There is no John Hayes in the front row and no Stringer at scrum half. There are centurions in the Irish backline. O’Driscoll has 107 tests, O’Gara 103. The side is a mix of youth and experience. McFadden and Ross make their test debuts whilst Lions captain Paul O’Connell returns after a long absence. All-in-all, Ireland look like a well blended side.
The Italian forward pack is one of the strongest in the competition. They have an abundance of experience; Lo Cicero 81 tests, Ongaro 74, Perugini 75, Castrogiovanni 71, Parisse 71. If Del Fava takes the field off the bench he will play his 50th test for Italy. They will certainly match Ireland in the forwards. But Italy’s age old problem is their backs. They can win any amount of possession but the back line combinations just don’t work. For this test they have a new half back combination and so the search goes on for someone to guide the backline. I can’t see Italy winning.
Last Five Encounters
06.02.2010 Ireland 29-11 in Dublin (6 Nations)
15.02.2009 Ireland 38-9 in Rome (6 Nations)
02.02.2008 Ireland 16-11 in Dublin (6 Nations)
24.08.2007 Ireland 23-20 in Belfast (World Cup Warm-up)
17.03.2007 Ireland 51-24 in Rome (6 Nations)
Italy has never defeated Ireland since they joined the 5 Nations to make the six nations, in 2000. Italy did defeat Ireland 37-22 in Bologna, back in December 1997.
GWC Rugby Rankings
World Table-Ireland 7th, Italy 10th
Europe Table-Ireland 2nd, Italy 6th
IRB Ranking Points
Ireland 81.79, Italy 73.31
Prediction: Ireland by 12 points.
15 Luke McLean, 14 Andrea Masi, 13 Gonzalo Canale, 12 Alberto Sgarbi, 11 Mirco Bergamasco, 10 Kris Burton, 9 Edoardo Gori, 8 Sergio Parisse, Capt. 7 Alessandro Zanni, 6 Joshua Sole, 5 Quintin Geldenhuys, 4 Santiago Dellape, 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Salvatore Perugini.
16 Fabio Ongaro, 17 Andrea Lo Cicero, 18 Carlo Del Fava, 19 Valerio Bernabo, 20 Paulo Canavosio, 21 Luciano Orquera, 22 Gonzalo Garcia.
Head Coach: Nik Mallett
15 Luke Fitzgerald, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, Capt.12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Keith Earls, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Tomas O'Leary, 8 Sean O'Brien, 7 David Wallace, 6 Denis Leamy, 5 Paul O'Connell, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 Michael Ross, 2 Rory Best, 1 Cian Healy.
16 Sean Cronin, 17 Thomas Court, 18 Leo Cullen, 19 Shane Jennings, 20 Eoin Reddan, 21 Ronan O'Gara, 22 Patrick Wallace.
Head Coach: Declan Kidney