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Italy to face Uruguay test in Rugby World Cup

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Six days after their heroic performance in Lille, when they pushed much-fancied France to the limit, Uruguay are back in action – this time against Italy in a match that has more than simply this Rugby World Cup (RWC) on the line at Stade de Nice, today.

New Zealand and France remain firm favourites to qualify from Pool ‘A’ – though there’s still a long way to go in the first phase of this year’s tournament and nothing is decided yet.

But a third-place finish guarantees an automatic qualification spot for RWC 2027 in Australia. That’s a prize worth chasing.

Unsurprisingly, then, Uruguay coach Esteban Meneses has made only two changes to his starting 15 from the team that lost 27-12 to France, with German Kessler coming in at hooker, and Gaston Mieres – who has featured in the past two tournaments – onto the wing.

Italy’s opening 52-8 win over Namibia has put them in a strong position, and they have their sights on a possible, if unlikely, quarter-final push. They also know that very ambition means that they cannot take the rapidly improving South Americans anything less than completely seriously. These two sides are meeting for the first time at an RWC.

It has to be whether Uruguay can repeat the tirelessly physical breakdown effort that caused a much-changed France side so many problems in Lille last Thursday. Since the last RWC, Uruguay have stepped up a level. Everyone in their 33-player squad is now professional, or semi-professional. The teams

Italy: Ange Capuozzo, Lorenzo Pani, Juan Ignacio Brex, Paolo Garbisi, Montanna Ioane; Tommaso Allan, Alessandro Garbisi; Danilo Fischetti, Giacomo Nicotera, Marco Riccioni, Niccolo Cannone, Federico Ruzza, Sebastian Negri, Michele Lamaro (Captain), Lorenzo Cannone.

Uruguay: Baltazar Amaya; Gaston Mieres, Tomas Inciarte, Andres Vilaseca (Captain), Nicolas Freitas, Felipe Etcheverry, Santiago Arata, Mateo Sanguinetti, German Kessler, Ignacio Peculo, Felipe Aliaga, Manuel Leindekar, Manuel Ardao, Santiago Civetta, Manuel Diana.

(C.D)

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