Mallett seeks Italy revival against Russia

by Staff Writer

Italy coach Nick Mallett will settle for no less than all five points when his side go up against World Cup debutants Russia at Nelson's Trafalgar Park in a Pool C match on Tuesday.

The Italians started well in their opener against Australia before being overrun and their bid to reach the quarter-finals for the first time has just been made all the more difficult by Ireland's upset defeat of the Australians.

In any case, the Italians know they simply must win all of their three remaining games - against Russia, the United States and Ireland - to have any hope of reaching the last eight.

Against Russia, there should not be a problem as the new boys are here primarily to gain experience with a view to building towards the future.

Mallett has rung the changes from the side that lost to Australia with only captain Sergio Parisse, fullback Andrea Masi and back Tommaso Benvenuti, who has moved from wing to outside centre, retained in the starting XV.

Salvatore Perugini returns as starting loosehead prop for his first match since Italy's final 2011 Six Nations match in March - the upset victory over France in Rome.

"There is a lot of competition for the players for the last match against Ireland and I want to give all the players as much chance as possible before then," said Mallett, who will stand down as Italy coach after the World Cup.

The entire Italian team watched Russia's first ever World Cup match when they lost 15-6 to the United States in New Plymouth on Thursday, but learned little from a messy match that was played in heavy rain.

"Russia played very close to the ruck, while the USA tried to play wide. It was difficult for them and they made a lot of errors," said Mallett.

"In fact it was more useful to watch Russia's pre-World Cup match with Northampton and their matches in the Churchill Cup to learn how they play."

Talisman prop Martin Castrogiovanni is unhappy at being on the bench after starting against Australia but will likely play at some stage to win his 80th cap.

Castrogiovanni insists Ireland's win over pool favourites Australia changed nothing for the Italians.

"After the Australia match we needed to win three games and we still need to win three games to go through," he said.

Russia's coaches have poured over the game against the Americans and are ready to make changes for the Italian game according to fullback Igor Klyuchnikov.

"The coaches have analysed the game against USA and told us the mistakes that we have made," he said.

"Our main problem was that we have lost the ball frequently, did not have long-lasting attacks and therefore were forced to spend much time in defence."

The Russian lineup for the Italy game shows a wealth of experience with a total of 568 caps and an average age of 29 years and 117 days.

Italy: Andrea Masi; Giulio Toniolatti, Tommaso Benvenuti, Matteo Pratichetti, Luke McLean; Riccardo Bocchino, Edoardo Gori; Sergio Parisse (capt), Mauro Bergamasco, Paul Derbyshire; Marco Bortolami, Quintin Geldenhuys; Lorenzo Cittadini, Fabio Ongaro, Salvatore Perugini

Replacements: Tommaso D'Apice, Martin Castrogiovanni, Cornelius van Zyl, Alessandro Zanni, Pablo Canavosio, Luciano Orquera, Alberto Sgarbi

Russia: Igor Klyuchnikov; Vasily Artemyev, Andrey Kuzin, Alexey Makovetskiy, Vladimir Ostroushko; Konstantin Rachkov, Alexander Shakirov; Victor Gresev, Andrey Garbuzov, Vyacheslav Grachev; Adam Byrnes, Alexander Voytov; Ivan Prishchepenko, Vladislav Korshunov (capt), Vladimir Botvinnikov

Replacements: Valery Tsnobiladze, Alexander Khrokin, Denis Antonov, Artem Fatakhov, Alexander Yanyushkin, Mikhail Sidorov, Yury Kushnarev

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