RWC: Match preview: Italy – USA

Trafalgar Park, Nelson, Tuesday 27th Sep 7:30pm (NZT)
Head-to-head: Played 2, Italy 2, USA 0
Last meeting: Italy 43 beat USA 25 in Biella 2004
Last meeting at a World Cup: Italy 30 beat USA 9 in Otley (Pool stage 1991)

Team news: Nick Mallet has brought the big boys back in for this match after resting his top side against Russia. They will want to get the combinations going before the big one against on Sunday. The nine changes to the side see the important Martin Castrogiovanni, Luciano Orquera and Fabio Semenzato return. USA coach Eddie O’Sullivan put out a “B” team against Australia, and the Americans paid the price going down by 62 points. O’Sullivan obviously wanted to save his players for this final game with because of the short turn-around and has named the same 22 that defeated Russia.

Form: Italy started poorly against Australia going down by a big margin after the Wallabies opened the flood gates in the second half. A comfortable win over Russia got their chances of progressing back on track, but they still have a lot of work to do if they are to make that a reality. The forward pack looks back to its brutal best and the back-line was given some ball against the Bears and capitalised to run in some good tries. USA also went down heavily against the Australians in their last outing, after some solid work in the first quarter they were simply cut to pieces. The defence that had served them so well against Ireland and Russia was nowhere to be seen, something that they will need to remedy. The inclusion of inspirational captain Todd Clever will go a long way to fixing this problem.

Prediction: Italy still have a chance of making it through to the knock-out stages, but a loss to USA here will extinguish those chances. Nick Mallet has named a side that should win comfortably, but in this World Cup you can not take anything for granted. The fact this is the Eagles last game will mean they will put everything into it, the Italians must not relax and look ahead the match against Ireland.
Italy by 20

Italy: 15 Luke McLean, 14 Tommaso Benvenuti, 13 Gonzalo Canale, 12 Gonzalo Garcia, 11 Mirco Bergamasco, 10 Luciano Orquera, 9 Fabio Semenzato, 8 Sergio Parisse (capt), 7 Mauro Bergamasco, 6 Alessandro Zanni, 5 Cornelius van Zyl, 4 Quintin Geldenhuys, 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Salvatore Perugini.
Replacements: 16 Fabio Ongaro, 17 Andrea Lo Cicero, 18 Marco Bortolami, 19 Paul Derbyshire, 20 Edoardo Gori, 21 Riccardo Bocchino, 22 Giulio Toniolatti.

USA: 15 Chris Wyles, 14 Takudzwa Ngwenya, 13 Paul Emerick, 12 Andrew Suniula, 11 James Paterson, 10 Roland Suniula, 9 Mike Petri, 8 Nic Johnson, 7 Todd Clever (capt), 6 Louis Stanfill, 5 Hayden Smith, 4 John van der Giessen, 3 Matekitonga Moeakiola, 2 Chris Biller, 1 Mike MacDonald.
Replacements: 16 Phil Thiel, 17 Shawn Pittman, 18 Scott LaValla, 19 Pat Danahy, 20 Tim Usasz, 21 Nese Malifa, 22 Blaine Scully.

By Alex Barlow-Smith