Italy vs Fiji preview

Italy’s South African-born lock Carlo Del Fava believes the Azzurri must maintain their strong defensive showings in test matches this month if they are to beat Fiji in Modena on Saturday.

Italy have conceded only three tries in their two test matches against Argentina and Australia and against the exuberant Pacific Islanders Del Fava is expecting another test of their tackling.

“Last Saturday in Florence against Australia our front five made a lot of tackles,” he said.

“We have a lot of confidence in our defence and it is from our defensive organisation that we have to lay the foundations to beat Fiji.

“They’re quick with a lot of power in their legs. They’re difficult to stop but we have to respect our gameplan and be disciplined both in defence and attack.

“This is our third and final autumn test, there’s a lot of attention on our pack and we must maintain the level of the last two tests up front and use that as a solid platform for our attacks.”

Italy lost both their previous tests, 22-16 against the Pumas and 32-14 to the Wallabies, but they were competitive throughout both matches and were by no means an easy touch.

In fact the score against Australia was exaggerated by a last second converted try when the ball popped out of an Italy scrum giving Aussie captain Rocky Elsom a gift.

Fiji’s autuman outings have gone marginally better as although they lost 34-12 to France in Paris, they then held Wales to a 16-16 draw in Cardiff.

What may have surprised many people about that game is that Fiji kept things relatively tight and Italy prop Martin Castrogiovanni believes that is something the flamboyant Islanders are developing.

“They’ve played some very good games in November and it won’t be easy for us,” he said.

“It will be a battle, like us Fiji always give it everything physically.

“They’re better than they were because now they don’t just run the ball straight away, they go with the forwards first and then look to spread it.”

Fiji have made six changes for this game while Italy’s South African coach Nick Mallett made just three.

The match is also an important one in terms of the world rankings with Fiji (10th) narrowly ahead of Italy (12th).

The Bookies have given Fiji a 4 point start so they are predicting Italy to win by 4 points or more.

Head to head
Played: 7
Italy wins: 3
Fiji wins: 4
Highest scores: Italy 66-10, 2001; Fiji 50-32, 1999
Biggest wins: Italy 66-10, 2001; Fiji 43-9, 2000

Last five results:
2006: Lautoka FIJ 29-18
2005: Monza ITA 23-8
2001: Treviso ITA 66-10
2000: Lautoka FIJ 43-9
1999: L’Aquila FIJ 50-32

Referee: D.Pearson

Teams (15-1):

Italy:Luke McLean; Andrea Masi, Gonzalo Canale, Alberto Sgarbi, Mirco Bergamasco; Luciano Orquera, Edoardo Gori; Sergio Parisse (capt), Robert Barbieri, Alessandro Zanni; Quintin Geldenhuys, Carlo Del Fava; Martin Castrogiovanni, Fabio Ongaro, Salvatore Perugini

Replacements: Carlo Festuccia, Andrea Lo Cicero, Santiago Dellape, Paul Derbyshire, Paulo Canavosio, Riccardo Bocchino, Tommaso Benvenuti

Fiji :Norman Ligairi; Vereniki Goneva, Albert Vulivuli, Gabi Lovobalavu, Napolioni Nalaga; Seremaia Bai, Nemia Kenatale; Sisa Koyamaibole, Akapusi Qera, Semisi Naevo; Jone Qovu, Wame Lewaravu; Deacon Manu (capt), Talemaitoga Tuapati, Campese Ma’afu.

Replacements: Viliame Veikoso, Vesi Rarawa, Sekonaia Kalou, Jimilai Kakaidawa, Seveci Taka, Seru Rabeni, Taniela Rawaqa

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