Fiji vs Italy Preview

Fiji could face their first defensive threat on Friday against Italy. Fiji are pretty much guaranteed top spot in Group D, they currently stand top by 2 points and have a points difference of 112, Italy currently have 2 points and a points difference of 22. Fiji's defence could be rusty coming into this game as they are yet to be tested. The fact  that they have conceded points against the likes of the US and Wales will give Italy hope that the free flowing Fijian's defence is penetrable.

We have seen plenty of what Fiji can do going forward but the key to this game will be Fiji's defensive efforts. Italy have shown plenty of presence in attack and they have some gifted players that can and will ask big questions of the Fijian defensive line. Campese is set to make his return which should help Italy manoeuvre themselves around the park, and get the best out of their forward pack, as they have the difficult task of going toe to toe with Fiji's big men.

The pace of the game will have to be slowed by the Italians to stop Fiji getting those quick play the balls, that have torn through their last two opponents, by dictating the ruck speed Italy will neutralise what is one of the Bati's biggest strengths. Italy need to counter by making sure they make good metres on their first 2 to 3 tackles of each set as that is where Fiji build their defensive momentum from, this will take a lot out of the energy levels of Fiji which will lead to missed tackles and line breaks.

Fiji: The Fijians have been scoring for fun recently, they have thrived off of using their backs to make huge metres from their own half. This fast play style has essentially meant Fiji are getting from tackle 1 to tackle 5, if they don't score, in around 45 seconds. Keeping pace with that team for 80 minutes is a tall order.

Fiji aren't going to change their tactics for this game, they will move the ball wide to players like Uate and Milne to overpower the Italian backs. The Bati forwards are also a force to be reckoned with, Kikau and Vunakece really impacting in last week's game, they made 320 metres, 31 tackles, 3 line breaks and 3 tries between them, this will definitely be on the Italians radar.

Italy: Defense is the key to beat the Fijians, first things first Italy need to slow down the play the ball to ensure tired defenders are set and ready for the next wave of the Fijian onslaught. Italy need to make sure they are returning kicks well too as the Fijians will look to limit field position with a good kick and chase.

Tedesco moves back to fullback, his input will be invaluable as he will be the link for most of the out the back plays. Alvaro will be a key player, he will be used as a battering ram to get the Azzurri out of their own half, and a dummy runner in set plays as no doubt Fiji will have him marked as a man to watch.

Conclusion: Italy have looked an improved side but I can't see them being able to hold off Fiji's offence. The unrelenting pressure the Bati generate will eventually prove too much for the Azzurri back line and points will start to be conceded. Both teams will play in a similar manner attacking, both looking to include their backs in long structured set plays looking to find spaces on the wings. Italy will score points but eventually defensive set after defensive set will exhaust their strike weapons and it will become a very one sided affair. For me Fiji have this game by a minimum of 18 points.



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