For the second Rugby World Cup in a row, Italy find themselves in a devilishly difficult pool and face Namibia in their first match of the tournament.

Four years ago, the Azzurri were drawn in the same section as New Zealand and South Africa. This time, it’s the All Blacks and France standing in their way of a first-ever quarter-final berth.

Their 2019 campaign at least got off to a winning start when they beat Namibia 47-22 in Higashiosaka, maintaining the Welwitschias losing run at World Cups.

In 22 matches, Namibia have never once tasted victory and they’ll do well to end that run on Saturday (12:00) against a better version of Italy than the last one they faced.

Italy vs Namibia Prediction

  • Over 59.5 points @ 20/21
  • Juan Ignacio Brex – Anytime Tryscorer @ 6/4

Team news

Italy have named a strong side for the opening game of the tournament, making only two changes from their impressive 42-21 win over Japan in their final warm-up game.

Lock Dino Lamb and prop Danilo Fischett come into the side, while Ange Capuozzo is on the wing with Tommaso Allan preferred at full-back.

Namibia’s starting line-up features eight of the players who faced Italy at the last World Cup, while Richard Hardwick, who has previously represented Australia, starts at No.8.

Over 59.5 points @ 20/21

These two shared ten tries and 69 points in the pouring rain in Higashiosaka when they clashed at the last World Cup and both sides have improved their attacking games since then.

Italy have some excellent options across their backline now, headlined by the diminutive Ange Capuozzo, who will play on one wing, opposite the in-form Monty Ioane, who scored in three of the Azzurri’s four warm-up games.

Ioane’s run includes a hat-trick against Japan and Italy have shown a clinical streak in their preparation for the World Cup, scoring a combined 99 points in wins over the Brave Blossoms and Romania.

Namibia are arguably worse than both those sides, although they did warm up for the tournament with a win over Chile and a narrow loss to Uruguay.

Under former South Africa coach Allister Coetzee, Namibia have looked more composed in possession, particularly when the tryline is in sight.

However, defence is likely to be an issue again for a Welwitschias side that’s shipped nearly 60 points per game across the last five World Cups. Attack may be the best form of defence for Namibia in perfect, albeit very warm, try-scoring conditions.

Italy are favoured by 33 points, but with Namibia covering the handicap in seven of their last eight matches, a bet on the points total is preferred.

Juan Ignacio Brex – Anytime Tryscorer @ 6/4

Centre Juan Ignacio Brex was one of Italy’s standout performers in this year’s Six Nations, albeit he finished that tournament with only one try to show for his efforts.

The Benetton back isn’t a prolific tryscorer for his country, bagging three times in 27 appearances, but a game against Namibia offers him an opportunity to add to his tally.

Expect the largely amateur Namibian side to tire in the 30C heat, making it much tougher to stop the powerful 6ft 2in frame of Brex going over in a game expected to feature plenty of tries.

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