Scotland 30 v Italy 29

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Wooden spooners in a comp that just embarrassed them.

The flower of Scotland has wilted and the Azurri’s sea is brown with muck, but now they meet to decide who’s the lesser loser… It is a testament to current Southern Hemisphere  and world rugby that in a comp that has Samoa in it, two 6N sides must play for the wooden spoon…

Players to watch:

For Scotland: The Scottish centres were very impressive against the Springboks last week and they will be dangerous on attack and solid on defence. Alasdair Strokosch was playing on the verge last weekend and if he can repeat that this weekend he will be a handful for the Italiains. David Denton gets his first start of the the tour and if he can provide the Scots with go-forward ball they will be difficult to stop.

For Italy: Sergio Parisse is always the player to watch. The Talismanic leader needs to be on top form if the Italians are going provide resistance. Tobias Botes gets a first start and will hope to provide the backline with crisp ball and boss the game behind his pack. Martin Castrogiovanni will alwayas be the rock of the Italian scrum and if he can gain the ascendancy then the Italians will have a chance.

Head to head: Parisse against Beattie will be the big match-up of the day. Beattie had a solid game against the Boks and will be looking to out-play his more fancied opponent. Masi and Murchie is another important head-to-head. Whichever fullback can provide strength on attack and is solid at the back will ease a lot of pressure on the rest of the side.

Previous results:
2013: Scotland won 34-10, Edinburgh
2012: Italy won 13-6, Rome
2011: Scotland won 23-12, Edinburgh
2011: Scotland won 21-8,Edinburgh
2010: Italy won 16-12, Rome
2009: Scotland won 26-6, Edinburgh
2008: Italy won 23-20, Rome
2007: Scotland won 18-16, St Etienne
2007: Italy won 37-17, Edinburgh
2006: Scotland won 13-10, Rome

Prediction: Italy have been poor throughout the series and Scotland impressed last week. Scott Johnson is a very astute coach and will know where to attack the Italians. Having beaten them this year already I think Scotland will win by at least 15 points.

The teams:

Scotland: 15 Peter Murchie, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Alex Dunbar, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Sean Lamont, 10 Tom Heathcote, 9 Greig Laidlaw (captain), 8 Johnnie Beattie, 7 Alasdair Strokosch, 6 David Denton, 5 Alastair Kellock, 4 Tim Swinson, 3 Euan Murray, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Alasdair Dickinson.
Replacements: 16 Fraser Brown, 17 Moray Low, 18 Jon Welsh, 19 Grant Gilchrist, 20 Robert Harley, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Duncan Taylor, 23 Tim Visser.

Italy: 15 Andrea Masi, 14 Leonardo Sarto, 13 Luca Morisi, 12 Alberto Sgarbi, 11 Giovanbattista Venditti, 10 Alberto Di Bernardo, 9 Tobias Botes, 8 Sergio Parisse (captain), 7 Robert Barbieri, 6 Joshua Furno, 5 Marco Bortolami, 4 Leandro Cedaro, 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 Davide Giazzon, 1 Matias Aguero.
Replacements: 16 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 17 Alberto De Marchi, 18 Lorenzo Cittadini, 19 Antonio Pavanello, 20 Alessandro Zanni, 21 Alberto Chillon, 22 Gonzalo Canale, 23 Luke McLean.

Date: Saturday, June 22
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Kick-off: 14.15 (12.15 GMT)
Expected weather: Some great weather predicted for Pretoria, no rain and a maximum temperature of 23°C but a low of 4°C.
Referee: Leighton Hodges (Wales)
Assistant referees: Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa), Cobus Wessels (South Africa)
TMO: Deon van Blommestein (South Africa)

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