Nitoglia ruled out for Italy's trip to Wales

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The Independent Online

The Gran Parma centre Alessio Galante has been called up to replace Ludovico Nitoglia in Italy's squad for the Six Nations game against Wales next Saturday. Nitoglia has been given a leave of absence for personal reasons and will not take any part at the Millennium Stadium.

Galante made his debut with the senior team last summer, and could earn his third cap against Wales. Nick Mallett's side will begin training tomorrow in Rome and travel to Cardiff on Thursday hoping to clinch their first win of the 2008 tournament after narrow defeats to Ireland and England. The Azzurri have been boosted by the return to fitness of Gloucester lock Marco Bortolami, who missed the last two Six Nations games with an eye injury.

In Brisbane yesterday, Australia's Queensland Reds were awarded two disputed tries then survived a late fightback by New Zealand's Otago Highlanders to win their opening Super 14 match 22-16.

Queensland, who finished at the bottom of last season's standings, outscored Otago three tries to one, but there were doubts about two of their touchdowns, scored off rucks.

South African referee Marius Jonker gave the Reds the benefit of the doubt both times and they opened up a 19-9 lead in the second half.

The Highlanders hit back with a late try by replacement forward Adam Thomson to set up a tense finish. Queensland sealed victory with a long-range penalty from Clinton Schifcofske after the final siren.

Queensland coach Phil Mooney said: "At the end of the day I'm just very pleased they won. The boys showed a lot of fortitude. Our defence was fantastic, they only scored one try and that was from a lineout that went wrong."

Queensland led 12-3 at the break after skipper John Roe and Schifcofske both scored tries, and midway through the second half Roe scored again while Otago prop Jamie Mackintosh was in the sin-bin.

Otago, who had five debutants in their side after losing all of their international players from last season, kept themselves in the hunt with two penalties and Thomson's late try, earning a consolation bonus point for losing by fewer than seven points. Highlanders captain Jason Macdonald said: "We've been written off in most quarters so we've got a lot to prove. They just capitalised on all the mistakes we made. There were too many and it wasn't to be."

New Zealand's Canterbury Crusaders kicked off their 2008 Super 14 season in style with a 34-3 win over Australia's ACT Brumbies, on a wet, cold night in Christchurch yesterday. Fly-half Dan Carter, playing his first serious match since the All Blacks were knocked out of the World Cup quarter-finals, rebounded from last season's dip in form to put in a brilliant display. He scored a try and kicked four conversions and two penalties in a personal haul of 19 points to deny the Australians any chance of a late comeback.

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