HOUSTON, TX – In a break from the norm, RWU presents a match preview instead of a post-mortem. We will still provide you with a detailed analysis after the match but we also wanted to look at the match-ups head to head with general overview.
Both teams are coming off wins. USA dominated Georgia last weekend and got some good momentum and fired up the engines. Coach Tolkin was so impressed with the win that he names an unchanged starting 15. He made the wingers swap sides and changed his back-up 9. Italy made 7 changes from a side that barely hung on to beat Canada.
USA vs Italy
15 Chris Wyles VS 15 Luke McLean: Wyles has been in great form for club and country. McLean is coming of a hamstring injury –Advantage USA
11 Luke Hume VS 14 Giovanbattista Venditti: This may have been the reason for the swapping of wing positions. Hume is a better attacker and Venditti is rather still raw and not an all-world defender – Advantage USA
13 Paul Emerick VS 13 Roberto Quartaroli: Emerick is the better attacker and stronger runner – Advantage USA
12 Andrew Suniula VS 12 Luca Morisi : Andrew is the better runner but Morisi has good distribution skills, so it will determined by who is more on focus on Saturday. – Even
14 James Paterson VS 11 Tommaso Benvenuti: Benvenuti is possibly Italy’s best attacking back (mainly at center) along with McLean, so it is no surpise Patterson is on this wing to defend him, being the best defensive winger the US has. – Advantage USA
10 Roland Suniula VS 10 Riccardo Bocchino: Roland has more flair and improvising ability. Bocchino is rather mechanical but can be rather consistent, which is an underrated value. – Even
9 Mike Petri VS 9 Edoardo Gori: If he had an Italian passport Petri, would be starting instead of Gori. – Advantage USA
8 Todd Clever (C) VS 8 Robert Barbieri: Yes! I said Even. Barbieri is a talent – the one that got away for Canada – and a guy that can play all backrow positions. Clever is still finding his stride at #8. – Even
7 Scott Lavalla VS 7 Mauro Bergamasco: Despite being older than Methuselah in rugby years, Mauro is a 7, born and bred (you hear that Nick Mallet? He was never a 9). LaValla is super-athletic lock that can play blindside and cover openside. LaValla is not gonna win the race to the break down. – Advantage Italy
6 Taylor Mokate VS 6 Alessandro Zanni: Sorry, but a blindside in his second test against a veteran with experience at working with the 7 and 8 make Zanni the winner – Advantage Italy
5 Brian Doyle VS 5 Joshua Furno: Both are pretty good domestically but in a big game, are not the first choice. – Even
4 Louis Stanfill VS 4 Antonio Pavanello: Stanfill can do the grunt work of a tight lock but has more mobility. – Advantage USA
3 Eric Fry VS 1 Alberto De Marchi: Fry is still learning to be a good tight head, De Marchi is an already established good loosehead, this doesn’t bode well. – Advantage Italy
2 Chris Biller VS 2 Carlo Festuccia: Biller is in great form, probably the most in-form US forward he will do well in the lineouts and if his props holdout at scrumtime he might be able to do his job. – Advantage USA
1 Shawn Pittman VS 3 Martin Castrogiovanni (C): Castro is a great power scrummer and though Pittman has improved technique, not sure he is ready for this kind of power. – Advantage Italy
16 Derek Asbun VS 16 Davide Giazzon: A fulltime hooker versus a guy working on converting to the position – Advantage Italy
17 Mike MacDonald VS 17 Michele Rizzo: America’s most capped propped is more experienced than Mr. Rizzo. – Advantage USA
18 Tolifili “Andre” Liufau VS 18 Simone Favaro: Back-up Prop versus Back-up Lock. The make-up of the USA bench makes it unfair to compare the two. – Not Applicable
19 Andrew Durutalo VS 19 Tommaso D’Apice: Duratalo is a talent and more athletic than D’Apice. D’apice is full time 15s and so this may give him the slight edge. – Even
20 Mose Timoteo VS 20 Tito Tebaldi: Speaking of older than Methuselah, Mose has been around the game at a high level for so long but he may just be too long in the tooth should he come-on. – Advantage Italy
21 Will Holder VS 21 Kris Burton: Experience 10 versus one in his third game. Burton also brings a more experienced boot. – Advantage Italy
22 Colin Hawley 22 Alberto Sgarbi: Hawley is a natural talent and has true finishing ability but Sgarbi is good; he’s just not an impact kind of guy. – Advantage USA
ANALYSIS: Though the above seemingly gives Team USA the advantage, we all know player vs player breakdowns don’t mean as much because they don’t really play against their direct opposites. Yet, Team USA should feel good about their chance to be a confident Italian squad. It will be exciting to watch.
SIDE NOTE: On Monday, 6/18/12, the USA’s U-20, aka Junior All-American won against Tonga 22-11 in their first pool game of the Junior World Trophy. The Junior All-Americans are players made up of College underclassmen, High School All-Americans and Club Under-19 stars. It’s a second tier competition of the Junior World Cup, with the winner getting promoted to the Junior World Cup competition. This year it will be held in Salt Lake City June 18th til June 30th. If you are looking to watch some of the action, CLICK THIS.
Until then… stay low and keep pumping those legs.
P.s… Check out what former Italy coach John Kirwan says about the team in the second half of this video: