Italy's first action in Pool B of the Rugby World Cup comprises of a clash with Namibia at the Hanazono Rugby Stadium in Higashiosaka on Sunday
Italy v Namibia, Sunday 22nd September, Higashiosaka, KO 07:15 (South African time)
Weather Forecast – Higashiosaka
Referee: Nic Berry (Australia)
Assistant Referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Federico Anselmi (Argentina)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)
Italy will probably think the draw has done them no favours in their bid to get beyond the pool stage for the first time. They lost all of the Six Nations matches in the early part of this year and warm up results comprise of a defeat in Ireland (29-10), an 85-15 demolition of Russia in a home fixture and defeats in France (47-19) and England (37-0).
In RWC 2015 Italy finished third in their pool behind Ireland and France. They lost to both those nations and had to work hard to see off Romania and Canada.
With the All Blacks and the Springboks for company in this pool it would be a major surprise if Italy made it to the quarter finals and you can get around 20/1 for them to qualify for the knockout rounds
Namibia also came through the African qualifiers with a 100% record with Kenya their nearest challengers. They have yet to win a match at the RWC finals in five previous appearances although they came very close in 2015 when they went down 17-16 to Georgia.As far as recent form is concerned in June this year Namibia beat Uruguay 30-28 in Montevideo and lost 20-0 to Russia at the same venue.
You can almost name your own price for Namibia to avoid an early exit from the tournament.
Italy: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Mattia Bellini, 13 Tommaso Benvenuti, 12 Luca Morisi, 11 Edoardo Padovani, 10 Tommaso Allan, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Sergio Parisse (c), 7 Maxime Mbandà, 6 Braam Steyn, 5 Federico Ruzza, 4 Alessandro Zanni, 3 Tiziano Pasquali, 2 Luca Bigi, 1 Nicola Quaglio
Replacements: 16 Oliviero Fabiani, 17 Simone Ferrari, 18 Marco Riccioni, 19 Dean Budd, 20 Jake Polledri, 21 Guglielmo Palazzani, 22 Carlo Canna, 23 Matteo Minozzi
Namibia: 15 Johan Tromp, 14 Chad Plato, 13 Justin Newman, 12 Darryl De La Harpe, 11 JC Greyling, 10 Cliven Loubser, 9 Damian Stevens, 8 Janco Venter, 7 Wian Conradie, 6 Rohan Kitshoff, 5 Tjiuee Uanivi (c), 4 PJ Van Lill, 3 Johannes Coetzee, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Andre Rademeyer
Replacements: 16 Louis van der Westhuizen, 17 AJ De Klerk, 18 Nelius Theron, 19 Johan Retief, 20 Max Katjijeko, 21 Eugene Jantjies, 22 Helarius Axasman Kisting, 23 Lesley Klim
Head to Head
The teams have met 3 times and all those matches were staged in Windhoek. In 1991 Namibia won both matches, 17-7 and 33-19 and in 2001 Italy came out on top 49-24.
Betting – Handicap
Italy-29.5.5 points at 9/10
Namibia +29.5 points at 9/10
Quotes are an average of what was on offer from a selection of bookmakers at the time of writing and are subject to change.
Italy should be far too strong for Namibia although I think Namibia will be able to stay in touch early. Conditions look set to be reasonable and at some stage I expect the 6 Nations outfit to gain control and pull clear. If pushed for a sizeable bet on the handicap I would go with Italy but with bigger fish to fry later in the day I will just have an interest that Italy win by 31-40 points inclusive.
Bet: 1 unit Italy win by 31-40 points inclusive at WSB