The first action in Round 3 of the Six Nations sees Italy host Scotland in Rome on Saturday and both sides are looking for a first win.
Italy v Scotland, Saturday 22nd February, Rome, KO 16:15 (South African time)
Referee: Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Mathieu Raynal (France) , Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)
Weather Forecast: Rome
Italy are bottom of the standings and have yet to earn a log point. They started with a 42-0 hiding off Wales in Cardiff, a game where they were given around 21 points start on the handicap. In Round 2 the pre match handicap was another big number for a visit to Paris to take on France. The cap was set in the mid 20's and although France won the game 35-22, Italy obliged for any punters who took the plus. Italy have conceded 5 tries in both their matches so far whilst against France they did manage to run in 3 of their own.
Italy lost all 5 games in 6 Nations 2019 , the fourth year in a row where they have failed to win or even draw a match in this competition. You have to go back to 2015 for their last 6 Nations win when they beat the Scots in Edinburgh.
Since 2000 Italy have won just 12 Six Nations matches but 7 of those victories have come against Scotland. Overall the Scots lead the 6N head to heads 13-7 and on Italian soil it's 5 wins a piece.
Fixtures: Ireland (a), England (h)
Scotland have also lost both of their opening matches although they did pick up losing bonus points each time. Two weeks they went down 13-6 to England in the rain in Edinburgh, a game where England scored the only try and the margin of defeat was't far away from where the pre-match handicap had been set. In Round 1 Scotland were beaten 19-12 by Ireland in Dublin and they did oblige for any punters who took the plus handicap of around 12.5 points.
The Scots put in a tremendous come back to draw at Twickenham in the final round of 6N 2019 but the only recent wins on their travels have come in Italy. Whilst the Scots have won each of their last 3 in Rome 2 of those games went to the wire. In 2018 they scraped home to win by 2 points at this venue and in 2014 they won by just a single point.
Fixtures: France (h), Wales (a)
Italy: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Mattia Bellini, 13 Luca Morisi, 12 Carlo Canna, 11 Matteo Minozzi, 10 Tommaso Allan, 9 Callum Braley, 8 Abraham Steyn, 7 Sebastian Negri, 6 Jake Polledri, 5 Niccolò Cannone, 4 Alessandro Zanni, 3 Giosuè Zilocchi, 2 Luca Bigi (c), 1 Andrea Lovotti
Replacements: 16 Federico Zani, 17 Danilo Fischetti, 18 Marco Riccioni, 19 Marco Lazzaroni, 20 Dean Budd, 21 Giovanni Licata, 22 Guglielmo Palazzani, 23 Giulio Bisegni
Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg (c), 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Blair Kinghorn, 10 Adam Hastings, 9 Ali Price, 8 Magnus Bradbury, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 5 Scott Cummings, 4 Ben Toolis, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Stuart McInally, 1 Rory Sutherland
Replacements: 16 Fraser Brown, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Willem Nel, 19 Grant Gilchrist, 20 Matt Fagerson, 21 George Horne, 22 Rory Hutchinson, 23 Byron McGuigan
Recent 6N & RWC Head to Head (any venue)
2018 6N Rome Italy 27-29 Scotland (Tries 3-4)
2017 6N Edinburgh Scotland 29-0 Italy (Tries 4-0)
2016 6N Rome Italy 20-36 Scotland (Tries 2-3)
2015 6N Edinburgh Scotland 19-22 Italy (Tries 1-3)
2014 6N Rome Italy 20–21 Scotland (Tries 2-2)
2013 6N Edinburgh Scotland 34-10 Italy (Tries 4-1)
The Betting - Handicap
Italy +8.5 points at 9/10 widely available
Scotland -8.5 points at 9/10 widely available
Note, odds quoted are correct at the time of writing but are subject to change.
A visit from Scotland represents Italy's best chance of snapping a long Six Nations losing streak. There was some improvement between Cardiff and Paris and this first home game might lead to another step up but I still can't bring myself to back the plus handicap.
The Scots had their moments in Dublin and at home to England and I feel the 2 week break will be more to their benefit given what they put in to those first 2 matches.
A Scotland win by 1 -12 points fits the bill for me.
Unit Scale 1-5
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