England claim routine victory over Italy in final World Cup warm-up match as Joe Marchant scores stunning try

6 Sep

England won their final match before flying off to the Rugby World Cup in Japan with thanks to help from a man who will be left behind.

Centre Joe Marchant was given his chance alongside Henry Slade and Jonathan Joseph as Eddie Jones was reluctant to expose Manu Tuilagi to the risk of injury.

Marchant scored a brilliant try on 53 minutes
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And Marchant scored an excellent try to help England round off their World Cup preparations with a 37-0 win over Italy in Newcastle.

England’s first home game away from Twickenham since 2015 was initially a low-key affair, with the 50,157 St James’ Park crowd distinctly unimpressed by their first-half performance but Marchant’s solo try after 53 minutes gave them something to cheer.

It was only 9-0 at half-time but England ran in four second-half tries in total to run out comfortable winners.

England have never lost to Italy in 25 previous Tests and Connor O’Shea’s men, who were without a rested skipper Sergio Parisse, never looked like breaking their duck as they concluded their World Cup build-up in untidy fashion.

England were streets ahead of the Italians without needing to play particularly well
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For England it was job done, as Jones’ men followed up victories over Wales and Ireland with a competent display against the limited Azzurri to offset their narrow defeat in Cardiff.

Jones fielded 20 members of his 31-strong World Cup party that will fly out to Japan on Sunday and he will be anxious to check on the fitness of lock Joe Launchbury after he limped out of the action six minutes before half-time.

Bath winger Ruaridh McConnochie got an early touch to ease his nerves on his long-awaited debut but most of the action took place on the other flank, where the experienced Jonny May caught the eye with a typically strong performance.

Italy clearly came to spoil and were warned by referee Ben O’Keeffe for persistent time-wasting at the line-out but they created the best early scoring opportunity, with centre Tommaso Benvenuti dropping the ball going for the corner after 11 minutes.

May was a major threat with his powerful running and ability to gather attacking kicks over the Italy defence but England lacked composure when it came to finishing off the promising moves.

It was a disjointed first-half performance and the fans demonstrated their frustration with boos as Liam Farrell lined up his third penalty attempt on the stroke of half-time which gave his side a 9-0 lead.

Undeterred, Farrell opted for goal again when the indisciplined visitors infringed once more at the start of the second half but he was off target for the first time.

The fans cheered when fly-half Carlo Canna opted to twice run the ball from penalties and the Mexican Waves were halted six minutes into the second half when Ben Youngs went over from the base of a ruck for the opening try which followed a strong surge from replacement prop Kyle Sinckler.

Seven minutes later Marchant took Youngs’ short pass to blow a hole in the Azzurri defence and easily rounded full-back Jayden Hayward for a try on his third appearance.

That broke Italy’s spirit as England cut loose in the last 15 minutes to make their obvious superiority tell on the scoreboard.

Impressive prop Ellis Genge got on the end of a rolling maul to touch down while Farrell got full-back Anthony Watson romping through a gap for England’s fourth try and the skipper kicked his seventh goal from eight attempts to wrap up the scoring.

The serious business starts for England later this month
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England claim routine victory over Italy in final World Cup warm-up match as Joe Marchant scores stunning try

6 Sep

England won their final match before flying off to the Rugby World Cup in Japan with thanks to help from a man who will be left behind.

Centre Joe Marchant was given his chance alongside Henry Slade and Jonathan Joseph as Eddie Jones was reluctant to expose Manu Tuilagi to the risk of injury.

Marchant scored a brilliant try on 53 minutes
Getty Images - Getty

And Marchant scored an excellent try to help England round off their World Cup preparations with a 37-0 win over Italy in Newcastle.

England’s first home game away from Twickenham since 2015 was initially a low-key affair, with the 50,157 St James’ Park crowd distinctly unimpressed by their first-half performance but Marchant’s solo try after 53 minutes gave them something to cheer.

It was only 9-0 at half-time but England ran in four second-half tries in total to run out comfortable winners.

England have never lost to Italy in 25 previous Tests and Connor O’Shea’s men, who were without a rested skipper Sergio Parisse, never looked like breaking their duck as they concluded their World Cup build-up in untidy fashion.

England were streets ahead of the Italians without needing to play particularly well
AFP or licensors

For England it was job done, as Jones’ men followed up victories over Wales and Ireland with a competent display against the limited Azzurri to offset their narrow defeat in Cardiff.

Jones fielded 20 members of his 31-strong World Cup party that will fly out to Japan on Sunday and he will be anxious to check on the fitness of lock Joe Launchbury after he limped out of the action six minutes before half-time.

Bath winger Ruaridh McConnochie got an early touch to ease his nerves on his long-awaited debut but most of the action took place on the other flank, where the experienced Jonny May caught the eye with a typically strong performance.

Italy clearly came to spoil and were warned by referee Ben O’Keeffe for persistent time-wasting at the line-out but they created the best early scoring opportunity, with centre Tommaso Benvenuti dropping the ball going for the corner after 11 minutes.

May was a major threat with his powerful running and ability to gather attacking kicks over the Italy defence but England lacked composure when it came to finishing off the promising moves.

It was a disjointed first-half performance and the fans demonstrated their frustration with boos as Liam Farrell lined up his third penalty attempt on the stroke of half-time which gave his side a 9-0 lead.

Undeterred, Farrell opted for goal again when the indisciplined visitors infringed once more at the start of the second half but he was off target for the first time.

The fans cheered when fly-half Carlo Canna opted to twice run the ball from penalties and the Mexican Waves were halted six minutes into the second half when Ben Youngs went over from the base of a ruck for the opening try which followed a strong surge from replacement prop Kyle Sinckler.

Seven minutes later Marchant took Youngs’ short pass to blow a hole in the Azzurri defence and easily rounded full-back Jayden Hayward for a try on his third appearance.

That broke Italy’s spirit as England cut loose in the last 15 minutes to make their obvious superiority tell on the scoreboard.

Impressive prop Ellis Genge got on the end of a rolling maul to touch down while Farrell got full-back Anthony Watson romping through a gap for England’s fourth try and the skipper kicked his seventh goal from eight attempts to wrap up the scoring.

The serious business starts for England later this month
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England vs Italy: Joe Marchant starts despite being omitted from World Cup squad

4 Sep

Joe Marchant will start England’s Test against Italy on Friday despite not being called up to the squad for the World Cup later this year.

Marchant has been omitted from the 31-man squad bound for Japan on September 8 but slots into the midfield alongside Piers Francis with captain Owen Farrell starting the final warm-up fixture at fly-half.

Marchant (centre) will make his first England start against Italy
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Two further players not picked for Japan 2019 are present on the bench in lock Charlie Ewels and flanker Matt Kvesic.

Ruaridh McConnochie finally makes his debut on the right wing after two aborted attempts in the double header against Wales due to hip and hamstring injuries.

The Bath sevens specialist forms a rapid back three alongside Anthony Watson, who makes his fourth appearance at full-back, and Leicester flyer Jonny May.

Henry Slade has lost his battle with a knee injury and so misses the last opportunity to get some game time before the World Cup and Ben Youngs is given another run at scrum-half.

Eddie Jones has largely stuck to his tried and tested up-front, including a fourth successive start for star number eight Billy Vunipola.

Mark Wilson, a Newcastle stalwart who will spend next season at Sale, makes his first start of the summer at openside flanker and Tom Curry is given another run at six.

Jones said: “We have gone with a mix and match selection policy to develop our adaptability and the team’s ability to cope with any situation.”

England have enjoyed a promising warm-up series to Japan 2019 with a pleasing win against Wales at Twickenham and crushing win over Italy only slightly off-set by a narrow defeat in Cardiff.

Italy complete the four fixtures in the nation’s first outing at St James’ Park, two days before the squad set-off for a pre-tournament training camp in Miyazaki.

Marchant is one of three players picked for Friday’s match who are not included in the World Cup squad
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Jones said: “We are delighted to be playing against Italy, one of our traditional Six Nations rivals and the game for us is another important step to develop our game fitness and game strategy.

“We have had a solid training week in Treviso with hot conditions so we are looking forward to testing ourselves against Italy on Friday night. Then we hop on the plane and are ready to go to Japan.

“We are excited to be playing in Newcastle. We are playing at an iconic football ground and we know the area is an important one for rugby in the northern part of England. We are looking forward to seeing and playing in front of the fans.”

England team vs Italy: A Watson (Bath Rugby); R McConnochie (Bath Rugby), J Marchant (Harlequins), P Francis (Northampton), J May (Leicester), O Farrell (Saracens, captain), B Youngs (Leicester); J Marler (Harlequins), J George (Saracens), D Cole (Leicester), J Launchbury (Wasps), C Lawes (Northampton), T Curry (Sale), M Wilson (Newcastle), B Vunipola (Saracens)

Italy 14-25 France: French side end on a high with victory in tight game at Stadio Olimpico as Italy end Six Nations winless

16 Mar

France won their final match of the Six Nations after scoring three tries in their win against Italy.

Italy ended this year’s tournament without a win after the 25-14 defeat at the Stadio Olimpico.

Antoine Dupont was one of France’s try scorers

Italy took an early three point lead after France conceded a penalty in front of the posts, which was Tommaso Allan.

Allan slotted another penalty over to put his side 6-0 up in the 12th minute of the match when the visitors conceded another penalty.

Italy’s solid start was completely undone when France scored a try out of nowhere.

Tommaso Allan scores with a kick for Italy

Antoine Dupont beat the last man to score a simple try and Romain Ntamack converted to make it 7-6 to the away side.

The France fly-half held his nerve to score a penalty to extend that lead to 10-6, which is how it stayed until the half-time break.

Allan reduced the deficit to just a point for Italy early in the second half before Yoann Huget scored France’s second try of the afternoon to make it 17-9.

Damian Penaud runs away from the Italy defence

Italy got a try they deserved 55 minutes into the match when Tito Tebaldi bulldozed his way over the try line.

Allan missed the conversion to leave the Italians trailing 17-14 with 25 minutes to go.

Ntamack scored a drop goal in the 63rd minute to increase the gap to six points meaning the home side would need a try to get back into the game.

Damian Penaud sealed the win late on with France’s third try of the match.

Six Nations 2019 permutations explained: Can England or Ireland win it? Will bonus points come into play?

15 Mar

This season’s Six Nations is set for a thrilling conclusion today with three countries still in title contention.

Wales, England and Ireland can all win silverware with the former currently top of the table with four wins from four.

Wales take on Ireland this weekend while England face Scotland and there are a host of possible ways to where the trophy will end up.

Wales are in pole position in the Six Nations

What are the permutations?

  • Wales will win the Six Nations title and clinch a first Grand Slam for seven years if they beat Ireland in Cardiff.
  • If Wales and England finish level on 20 points, which is quite possible, then Wales will still be crowned champions as Grand Slam winners are automatically awarded three bonus points under Six Nations rules.
  • A draw between Wales and Ireland – and England losing to Scotland at Twickenham – would see Wales win the title without a Grand Slam.
  • A draw between Wales and Ireland – and England beating Scotland – would see England crowned champions.
  • If Ireland beat Wales and England defeat Scotland, then England will be champions.
  • If Ireland beat Wales and England fail to beat Scotland, then Ireland will be champions.
  • If Ireland beat Wales and gain a bonus point and England beat Scotland but don’t gain a bonus point, then England will be champions due to their superior points difference barring an unlikely 65-point swing in Ireland’s favour.

What about the bonus points system?

A bonus point is awarded in the Six Nations if you score four or more tries or if you lose within seven points.

England have been at their attacking best at times in this tournament claiming three bonus points in their matches so far.

But Wales have had to make do with collecting just the four points per win and are yet to get any extras.

England take on Scotland in the final weekend of the Six Nations

Yet, if Warren Gatland’s side go onto win all five matches, they are automatically awarded three bonus points for achieving the Grand Slam.

This would ensure they lift the Six Nations title, even if England get maximum points in their final fixture.

England can only get 20 points at most in tournament, while Wales will get a minimum 23 points if they remain undefeated.

What are the remaining Six Nations fixtures?

Saturday, March 16

Italy v France: 12:30pm, Stadio Olimpico

Wales v Ireland: 2:45pm, Millennium Stadium

England v Scotland: 5pm, Twickenham

Ireland can still win the Six Nations

Italy 16-26 Ireland: Defending Six Nations champions labour in Rome as Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton struggle

24 Feb

Ireland tiptoed away from Rome with an unconvincing 26-16 Guinness Six Nations victory, claiming the four-try bonus point but suffering a serious scare from Conor O’Shea’s men.

Quinn Roux, Jacob Stockdale, Keith Earls and Conor Murray crossed for an Ireland side who are still struggling for fluency and rhythm.

Stockdale helped Ireland to an unconvincing win against Italy

Edoardo Padovani and Luca Morisi bagged tries for Italy to lead 16-12 at half-time, but Ireland edged home to leave the Azzurri still without a Six Nations win under O’Shea’s stewardship.

Ireland’s niggles were underlined by Johnny Sexton muttering angrily to himself and kicking out in frustration when he was replaced late on for Jack Carty to make his Test debut.

Bundee Aki suffered a head injury and Sexton played through a minor leg problem that led to Murray taking over goal-kicking duties.

Head coach Joe Schmidt wanted Ireland – and chiefly half-backs Murray and Sexton – to rediscover the rhythm which underscored their stellar 2018.

Sexton cut a frustrated figure in Rome

That fluency continues to elude Ireland and their British and Irish Lions playmakers, but Schmidt’s men must at least be credited for emerging unscathed from a tricky situation.

Captain on the day Peter O’Mahony admitted beforehand that Ireland’s 22-15 defeat to Italy in Rome in 2013 still sends shivers down his spine.

The Munster flanker led his men to avoid any further such trauma at the Stadio Olimpico then, but this was another Ireland performance littered with indiscipline and inaccuracy.

Roux and Stockdale handed the visitors the perfect start with two tries in the first quarter, but Ireland had already wasted several scoring platforms by that point.

Padovani is congratulated by his teammates after scoring for Italy

Connacht lock Roux capped a 19-phase move by ploughing in for Ireland’s first try, with Stockdale then exploiting a cheap Italy knock-on to canter home almost unimpeded.

Both Italy tries came from Ireland errors, first Ireland overthrew a line-out in their own 22 and Italy pounced, Tommaso Allan firing a ball over the top for Padovani to nip home.

Then Tito Tebaldi pinched the ball at the base of an Ireland ruck to spark a field-length counter-attack which ended in centre Morisi powering over the whitewash.

Ireland’s half-time problems could even have been worse, had full-back Rob Kearney been punished for what appeared a deliberate block on Tebaldi.

Conor Murray is struggling to replicate his form from 2018 for Joe Schmidt’s side

The marauding Italy scrum-half chased his chip deep in Ireland territory when Kearney stepped into his path and sent him tumbling.

Referee Glen Jackson ignored the incident entirely though, in a clear let-off for Schmidt’s men.

Ireland improved after the break, though in truth not nearly enough to touch anything like the heights of the 2018 that included the Grand Slam and the November win over New Zealand.

Earls stepped his way over the line to wrestle back Ireland’s lead, before Murray’s sniping finish secured the try bonus.

Munster flyer Earls so nearly claimed the score of the match, only to be dragged down mere metres short. Italy fell for the latest Schmidt special move, with this one seeing Sexton run a wraparound decoy line allowing Earls to blast through midfield.

Hauled down just shy of the line though, his pass fell astray and the move broke down.

Job done for Ireland in the end, but precious little else, leaving Schmidt’s men needing to step up several levels to face France and Grand Slam-chasing Wales.

Italy 15-26 Wales: Warren Gatland’s men equal their longest unbeaten run with Guinness Six Nations win in Rome ahead of England clash

9 Feb

Wales equalled their longest unbeaten run in their 138-year Test match history as they dispatched dogged Guinness Six Nations opponents Italy 26-15 at Stadio Olimpico.

It was Warren Gatland’s 11th successive victory, matching the sequence set between 1907 and 1910, and teed up a crunch Cardiff clash against England in a fortnight’s time.

Josh Adams scored the decisive try for Wales

Wales, though, will need to be significantly better for that game as a team showing 10 changes from the side that staged a stunning second-half fightback to beat France in Paris last week laboured far too much in Rome.

Tries by wing Josh Adams and centre Owen Watkin proved the difference, while fly-half Dan Biggar kicked 14 points and Gareth Anscombe converted Watkin’s touchdown.

But Italy, despite slipping to a 19th successive Six Nations defeat and a 13th on the bounce against Wales, battled hard throughout.

They claimed a first-half try from flanker Abraham Steyn, with fly-half Tommaso Allan kicking a penalty and conversion, before wing Edoardo Padovani crossed late on.

Padovani added a late consolation

Wales were ultimately deserved winners, yet they will be frustrated at not collecting a winning bonus point, which might prove costly in the final championship shake-up.

Head coach Warren Gatland made wholesale changes following last week’s comeback victory over France, handing Six Nations debuts to Leicester wing Jonah Holmes and Wasps flanker Thomas Young, plus first Six Nations starts for scrum-half Aled Davies and back-row forward Aaron Wainwright.

Italy were soon in trouble, conceding a penalty after just 27 seconds for not releasing, and Biggar kicked Wales in front.

Biggar then doubled Wales’ advantage through a second penalty 12 minutes later as the visitors dominated territory and possession.

All eyes were on Northampton fly-half Dan Biggar in Rome

Italy, apart from a break by wing Angelo Esposito, showed nothing in attack, being pinned on the back foot as Biggar completed a penalty hat-trick inside the opening quarter to put Wales 9-0 ahead.

Biggar, back in the starting line-up ahead of Gareth Anscombe, was at the heart of Wales’ attacking game.

His work under the high ball almost created a try out wide for Holmes, but, with Italy continuing to show poor discipline, he accepted another penalty chance to make it 12-0 after 29 minutes.

French referee Mathieu Raynal adopted a surprisingly lenient approach in terms of possible yellow cards, given Italy’s consistent transgressing, but the Azzurri stunned Wales eight minutes before half-time.

Hallam Amos powers through the Italian defence

They sacrificed a kickable penalty to go for the corner and great work by their forwards proved too much for Wales’ defence as Steyn powered over for a try that Allan converted, making it 12-7.
It was a warning shot for Wales and they trooped off at the break with only a five-point advantage, although it should have been less as a short-range Allan penalty hit a post.

Allan, though, made amends for his miss just four minutes into the second period, finding the target from a similar range as Wales’ lead was further erode.

Gatland made his first changes 10 minutes into the second period, sending on regular skipper Alun Wyn Jones for Jake Ball and replacing prop Samson Lee with Dillon Lewis.

And Wales claimed their first try shortly afterwards as Jonathan Davies found Liam Williams out wide and he delivered a scoring pass to Adams.

Biggar converted, but it was his final act of the match as Gatland then sent on Anscombe to replace him with Wales leading 19-10.

The final quarter saw Watkin cross for Wales and Padovani cancel that out as Wales closed down the clock on a game and performance that will not live long in the memory.

Scotland 33-20 Italy: Gregor Townsend’s side begin Six Nations with a win

2 Feb

Sam Johnson was handed his first cap as Scotland began their Six Nations campaign with a win.

Gregor Townsend’s team had to contend with a lengthy injury list ahead of the tournament opener against Italy, but expectations that the team could improve on two successive third-place finishes and mount a real title challenge were high among fans.

Blair Kinghorn scored a hat-trick in Scotland’s opening Six Nations win against Italy

The visitors were hoping to arrest a run of 17 straight championship defeats and were taking heart from last year’s meeting in Rome when only a last-gasp Greig Laidlaw penalty denied them victory.

Skipper Sergio Parisse – who is due to retire after this year’s World Cup – was making his last appearance at Murrayfield, while Conor O’Shea was forced into a late change when scrum-half Tito Tebaldi pulled up in the warm-up, with his slot going to Guglielmo Palazzani.

The Scots thought they had a third-minute opener when Grant Gilchrist crawled over from a line-out drive but referee Luke Pearce left the hosts disappointed as he penalised the Edinburgh lock for a double movement as he dotted down.

The Azzurri held firm moments later but only after Blair Kinghorn took the wrong option as he failed to slot in Stuart Hogg.

Tommaso Allan put Italy ahead after nine minutes with a penalty.

It took just 12 minutes for Scotland to finally make their breakthrough. With the Italians over-committed down the right, Finn Russell exploited the space on the other side as he floated a perfect cross-field kick into Kinghorn’s hands, leaving the Edinburgh wing to race over the line unchallenged. Laidlaw missed with the conversion.

Kinghorn had more work to do nine minutes later but the result was the same as he again pounced over in the left-hand corner.

Tommaso Castello’s knock-on gave Scotland a scrum five yards out from which they quickly worked the ball out wide through the hands of Russell and Johnson.

Hogg did Kinghorn no favours with a terrible pass to his feet but the pick-up and finish were impeccable.

Laidlaw this time nailed the conversion from out wide but Scotland failed to maintain their blistering early tempo and that gave the Italians some much-needed respite as they held on for the half-time whistle trailing 12-3.

However, the Dark Blues’ show of mercy lasted just seven minutes into the second period as Hogg added the third.

Tommy Seymour carved Italy apart with a marauding charge and as the visitors scrambled for cover, Russell dinked a grubber in behind. The race was on between on Hogg and Angelo Esposito but it was the Glasgow full-back who applied the all-important downward pressure to try number three with his fingertips.

Laidlaw’s conversion opened up a 16-point lead but the bonus point was the prize Scotland were really after and it arrived after 54 minutes as Kinghorn wrapped up his treble.

Russell did brilliantly to scoop up a wayward Josh Strauss pass. Ritchie then rammed forward with another impressive run before Laidlaw handed off for Kinghorn, who was unstoppable as he slid over yet again.

Kinghorn dives over for his third try

Chris Harris crossed and Russell added the conversion to stretch Scotland’s lead to 33-3.

O’Shea’s team did pull three scores back through Guglielmo Palazzani, Edoardo Padovani and Angelo Esposito in a chaotic final 10 minutes but it was not enough to prevent them slumping to their 18th straight defeat in the competition as Scotland ran out 33-20 winners

Six Nations 2019: Full squad lists for England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, France and Italy ahead of third round games

24 Jan

Wales can win the 2019 Six Nations Championship this weekend and claim Grand Slam glory.

Here’s the full squad list of every country ahead of the final round of action.

Owen Farrell and England will be hoping for Six Nations glory this year

England squad

Daly, Nowell, Slade, Tuilagi, May, Farrell, Youngs, Moon, George, Sinckler, Launchbury, Kruis, Wilson, Curry, B Vunipola

Replacements: Cowan-Dickie, Genge, Cole, Shields, Hughes, Spencer, Ford, Te’o

Scotland beat England to win the Calcutta Cup last year

Scotland squad

Maitland, Graham, Grigg, Johnson, McGuigan, Russell, Price, Dell, McInally, Nel, Toolis, Gilchrist, Skinner, Watson, Bradbury

Replacements: Brown, Reid, Berghan, J Gray, Strauss, Laidlaw, Hastings, Harris.

Wales take on France to kick off the 2019 Six Nations

Wales squad

L. Williams, North, J. Davies, Parkes, Adams, Anscombe, G. Davies, R. Evans, Owens, Francis, Beard, A. Jones, Navidi, Tipuric, Moriarty.

Replacements: Dee, Smith, Lewis, Ball, Wainwright, A. Davies, Biggar, Watkin.

Ireland won the Six Nations last year

Ireland squad

Kearney, Earls, Ringrose, Aki, Stockdale, Sexton, Murray, Healy, Best, Furlong, Beirne, J. Ryan, O’Mahony, O’Brien, Stander.

Replacements: Scannell, Kilcoyne, Porter, Roux, Conan, Marmion, Carty, Larmour.

Can France win the Six Nations this season?

France squad

Medard, Penaud, Bastareaud, Fofana, Huget, Ntamack, Dupont, Falgoux, Guirado, Bamba, Lambey, Willemse, Alldritt, Camara, Picamoles.
Replacements: Chat, Priso, Aldegheri, Gabrillagues, Iturria, Serin, Lopez, Ramos.

Italy star Sergio Parisse

Italy squad

Hayward, Padovani, Zanon, Morisi, Esposito, Allan, Tebaldi, Lovotti, Ghiraldini, Pasquali, Sisi, Ruzza, Steyn, Polledri, Parisse.
Replacements: Bigi, Traore, Ferrari, Zanni, Negri, Palazzani, McKinley, Sperandio.