Scotland v Italy – team news and match preview

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Scotland full-back Stuart Hogg has recovered from concussion to start Saturday’s match
Six Nations
Venue: Murrayfield Date: Saturday, 18 March Kick-off: 12:30 GMT
Coverage: Watch live on BBC One, BBC One HD, online, tablets, mobiles and BBC Sport app from 12:00 GMT; listen on BBC Radio 5 Live; text commentary on BBC Sport website.

TEAM NEWS & LINE-UPS

Scotland coach Vern Cotter has made one change to his side, with hooker Ross Ford preferred to Fraser Brown.

Stuart Hogg retains his starting spot after overcoming concussion.

Italy make four changes, including Tommaso Benvenuti for Michele Campagnaro at outside centre.

Flanker Maxime Mbanda replaces Simone Favaro, lock George Biagi is in for Andries van Schalkwyk and hooker Ornel Gega takes the place of Leonardo Ghiraldini.

Scotland: Hogg; Seymour, Jones, Dunbar, Visser; Russell, Price; Reid, Ford, Fagerson; R Gray, J Gray; Barclay (captain), Watson, Wilson.

Replacements: Brown, Berghan, Du Preez, Weir, Dell, Swinson, Pyrgos, Scott.

Italy: Padovani; Esposito, Benvenuti, McLean, Venditti; Canna, Gori; Lovotti, Gega, Cittadini, Fuser, Biagi, Mbanda, Steyn, Parisse.

Replacements: Ghiraldini, Panico, Chistolini, Van Schalkwyk, Ruzza, Minto, Violi, Sperandio.

VIEW FROM BOTH CAMPS

Scotland head coach Vern Cotter: “The players were frustrated by last weekend but we must take all the learning from the past year and produce a strong, complete performance to put us in the best possible position to finish in the top half of the table.

“Italy are a tough team to overcome. They’ve been leading at half-time in three of their Six Nations games, so they’re obviously a good team that are improving.”

Italy head coach Conor O’Shea: “We are very, very close to being competitive. Our challenge is mostly mental. We have to win many small challenges, working minute by minute.

“After a year in Italy I have seen some progress in the training process, but there is still much to improve. I really believe in this group.”

MATCH FACTS

Head-to-head

  • Scotland have won six of their past seven games against Italy.
  • However, Italy beat Scotland on their most recent visit to Murrayfield in 2015.
  • The Azzurri have won just two of 44 away Six Nations games – both against Scotland.

Scotland

  • Scotland have won three Six Nations home games in a row. The last time they went on a longer run was a 13-game streak from 1989 to 1991.
  • The Scots could win three matches in a Six Nations tournament for the first time since 2006.

Italy

  • The Italians will finish bottom of the table for a second successive Six Nations.
  • The Azzurri have lost 11 Six Nations matches in a row since a 22-19 win against Scotland at Murrayfield in 2015.

MATCH OFFICIALS

Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France)

Touch judges: Nigel Owens (Wales) & Luke Pearce (England)

TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)



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