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Italy change eight for their first match since ambushing Wales

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Tullio M Puglia/Getty Images)

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Kieran Crowley has made eight changes to his starting Italy XV for their first Test match since their shock Guinness Six Nations win over Wales in March. It’s 14 weeks now since young Ange Capuozzo sprinted clear to put Edoardo Padovani over for the winning converted try in a match in Cardiff that dramatically ended 22-21 in favour of the Azzurri

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That was the first win for Italy in the championship in 36 matches, a barren run stretching back to 2015, and it greatly encouraged Crowley whose next team-building event takes place on Saturday when they take on Portugal in Lisbon. 

Eight changes have been made to the side that defeated Wales, five in the pack. Hame Faiva is back in the mix as the starting hooker following his red card versus Ireland, taking over from Giacomo Nicotera, while Simone Ferrari is at tighthead in place of Pietro Ceccarelli.

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The one-cap Andrea Zambonin and David Sisi are at lock, with Marco Fuser and Federico Ruzza stepping down, while Renato Giammarioli is at No8 in place of Toa Halafihi. Out the back, there is a fresh half-back pairing in the debut-making out-half Giacomo da Re and scrum-half Alessandro Fusco, who is making his first start after six previous caps off the bench. 

This duo will fill in for the internationally-retired Callum Braley and Paolo Garbisi, who is busy with Top 14 finalists Montpellier and their Friday night decider versus Castres in Paris. Elsewhere, four of the five other backs from the Principality win are the same, the only alteration being Jacopo Trulla called up to start on the right wing with Padovani switching to the left in the absence of Monty Ioane.

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“This summer tour is a very important stage in our growth path,” said Crowley, who includes two more uncapped players on the bench for a match that is the first in a three-game tour that also features fixtures away to Romania and Georgia. “We tackle all the commitments on the calendar step by step, focusing on our next opponents. We have worked well and by playing our best rugby we can achieve good results.”

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ITALY (vs Portugal, Saturday)
15. Ange CAPUOZZO (Grenoble, 2 caps)
14. Jacopo TRULLA (Zebre Parma, 7 caps)
13. Juan Ignacio BREX (Benetton Rugby, 13 caps)
12. Leonardo MARIN (Benetton Rugby, 5 caps)
11. Edoardo PADOVANI (Benetton Rugby, 35 caps)
10. Giacomo DA RE (FEMI-CZ Rovigo/Benetton Rugby, uncapped)
9. Alessandro FUSCO (Fiamme Oro Rugby/Zebre Parma, 6 caps)
8. Renato GIAMMARIOLI (Zebre Parma, 5 caps)
7. Michele LAMARO (Benetton Rugby, 15 caps) – capt
6. Giovanni PETTINELLI (Benetton Rugby, 6 caps)
5. Andrea ZAMBONIN (Zebre Parma, 1 cap)
4. David SISI (Zebre Parma, 21 caps)
3. Simone FERRARI (Benetton Rugby, 34 caps)

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