Ireland vs Italy preview and team news

Updated: February 24, 2012

Ireland welcome Italy to the Aviva on Saturday for their second Six Nations match of the season.

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Ireland began their Six Nations campaign with a disappointing last-minute 23-21 defeat to Wales, while their match with France was postponed.

Italy performed well against France in their opening match but lost 30-12.

The Azzurri were then in control against England after two late first half tries from Giovanbattista Venditti and Tommaso Benvenuti. A second half comeback helped the English to a 19-15 victory, however.

Ireland have normally been dominant in their Six Nations encounters with Italy and have won all 12 matches between the sides in the competition.

The Azzurri pushed Ireland all the way last year, however, with Italy taking the lead with a Luke McLean try in the 75th minute. Ireland needed a late Ronan O’Gara drop goal to rescue a 13-11 victory.

Ireland have named the same starting line-up that was due to face France in Paris.

Keith Earls starts at inside centre instead of Fergus McFadden in the only change from Ireland’s defeat to Wales.

Italy, meanwhile, have made four changes to their team ahead of Saturday’s game.

Italian coach Jacques Brunel has replaced out-half Kristopher Burton with Tobias Botes, who makes his first start for the Azzurri.

Michele Rizzo makes his Six Nations debut and takes Andrea Lo Cicero’s place at loosehead prop, while Alberto Sgarbi replaces Gonzalo Canale at inside centre,

Lorenzo Cittadini will replace the injured Martin Castrogiovanni, who fractured a rib against England and will miss the remainder of the Six Nations.

Past Meetings:
2011: Ireland 36-6 Italy, Dunedin
2011: Italy 11-13 Ireland, Rome
2010: Ireland 29-11 Italy, Dublin
2009: Italy 9-38 Ireland, Rome
2008: Ireland 16-11 Italy, Dublin
2007: Ireland 23-20 Italy, Belfast
2007: Italy 24-51 Ireland, Rome
2006: Ireland 26-16 Italy, Dublin
2005: Italy 17-28 Ireland, Rome
2004: Ireland 19-3 Italy, Dublin
2003: Italy 13-37 Ireland, Rome
2002: Ireland 32-17 Italy, Dublin
2001: Italy 22-41 Ireland, Rome
2000: Ireland 60-13 Italy, Dublin

The teams:

Ireland: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Keith Earls, 12 Gordon D’Arcy, 11 Andrew Trimble, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Sean O’Brien, 6 Stephen Ferris, 5 Paul O’Connell (c), 4 Donncha O’Callaghan, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Rory Best, 1 Cian Healy.

Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Tom Court, 18 Donnacha Ryan, 19 Peter O’Mahony, 20 Eoin Reddan, 21 Ronan O’Gara, 22 Fergus McFadden.

Italy: 15 Andrea Masi, 14 Giovanbattista Venditti, 13 Tommaso Benvenuti, 12 Alberto Sgarbi, 11 Luke McLean, 10 Tobias Botes, 9 Edoardo Gori, 8 Sergio Parisse (c), 7 Robert Barbieri, 6 Alessandro Zanni, 5 Marco Bortolami, 4 Quintin Geldenhuys, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Michele Rizzo.

Replacements: 16 Tommaso D’Apice, 17 Fabio Staibano, 18 Antonio Pavanello, 19 Simone Favaro, 20 Fabio Semenzato, 21 Kris Burton, 22 Gonzalo Canale.

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