Italy vs England Prediction: Azzuri to keep pace with new-look England

 | February 02 | 

4 mins read

Alex Cox Rugby Union

Despite never beating England, the Italians have certainly progressed over the last few years and will be looking to entertain a sold out Stadio Olimpico in Rome this Saturday afternoon (14:15). We've asked our regular Rugby Union tipster Alex Cox to preview this one and give us his best betting angle. 

Italy vs England Betting Tips

  • Italy +15.5 Handicap @ 5/6

The early kick off on Saturday will see Borthwick’s England side up against the Italians, in what should be sunny and mild conditions in Rome.

The Italians are coming off a very disappointing World Cup in which they got torn apart by both France and New Zealand. They also have a new man in charge in Gonzalo Quesada who is an extremely well regarded coach, most recently leading Stade Francais to a somewhat unexpected Top 14 play-off visit last year. The Italians will most certainly be looking to take confidence from how Benetton have performed this season and they currently sit 2nd in the URC table.

England silenced some – but not all – critics by getting a Bronze medal in the World Cup and they start this Six Nations campaign with a fresh squad. They have a new skipper in Jamie George and he’ll be looking to get England on track with a win in a game that England are expected to win.

A number of players have spoken to media this week and all have maintained that England fans will see a different brand of rugby, with an intention to entertain and put a smile on England fans faces again. Only time will tell if that comes to fruition, but I have some doubts given the amount of changes in the England ranks.

Team News: 

Italy

Quesada has opted not to shuffle his pack too much on his first team selection. However, there have been two changes to the original side with both Capuozzo and Iachizzi ruled out, with Pani and Izekor coming into replace them. Capouzzo ruled out is certainly a disappointment as the youngster is one of the most creative backs.

Allan will marshal the game from 15 and Monty Ioane will be on the left wing. The midfield is a Benetton partnership in Brex and Menoncello and the latter is one to keep an eye on. He missed the World Cup through injury but is fine form and is an excellent ball carrier through traffic. Finally the backline is complete with the Garbisi brothers at half backs.

The pack is also made up of a number of Benetton players – six in fact. The front row will certainly be tested by England, but Fischetti especially has shown he can stand up to the challenge. Niccolo Cannone and Ruzza are the locks and the backrow is made up of Negri, their captain Lamaro (C) and Lorenzo Cannone.

Their biggest struggle to date has been their forwards getting over the gain-line in attack but I think we’ll see Negri and Cannone step up to the plate. Benetton’s defence has been exceptional this season and they seem to have found a new level of grit and determination to dominate tackles which I hope to see transitioned this weekend.

England

A number of big names are not included in this squad for a variety of reasons, including Owen Farrell, Courtney Lawes, Manu Tuilagi, Ollie Lawrence, Marcus Smith, George Martin, Jack Willis, Tom Curry and Henry Arundell. Borthwick has promised that Premiership form would be rewarded and he seems to have kept to his word – as can be seen by the Saints inclusions.

Steward is at 15 with Daly and Freeman making up the back 3. The recent midfield shuffle sees Dingwall partner up with Slade. Dingwall has been very impressive for Saints this season and his deserved his call up. With Marcus Smith injured, George Ford will wear the number 10 shirt and Alex Mitchell has passed a fitness test to take the 9 shirt.

The front row is made up of scrummaging wizard Joe Marler, Captain Jamie George and Bath’s Will Stuart. Itoje and Chessum are in the second row although George Martin is certainly a loss. There is a debut handed to Ethan Roots at 6, after his impressive form at Exeter, with Underhill and Earl completing the back row.

Italy +15.5 Handicap @ 5/6

England players have openly stated that their World Cup performances were fueled by the consistent chatter of being written off by both media and fans alike. However they are now back with a favourite tag and are expected to comfortably beat this Italian side and I think that mindset transition can be a challenge, especially with a number of new players across the side.

I think the Italians will bounce back from their World Cup campaign and be competitive in this game. I do also think we could see quite a few points – given the conditions and England’s vow to play attacking rugby – but I expect the Italians to keep pace and cover the handicap.

italy +15.5 hcp 5-6

You can read all Alex's Rugby Union Betting Tips at our Insights hub. 

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