Flanker Alessandro Zanni says Italy are desperate to beat Scotland here today and claim their first Six Nations triumph in almost two years.
Coming off an opening defeat against Ireland and a narrow home setback at the hands of England, the Azzurri face the Scots in a battle between the two countries yet to savour victory in this season's tournament. However, Scotland are the last side to have fallen to the Italians in the tournament, going down 23-20 during the 2008 championship.
"This game will mark our last appearance in front of our fans in the tournament and we want to make sure we get a good result," Zanni said. "It will be a great test for us because we have already shown, with a great performance against England, that we are at the level of the top teams. All that was missing in that game was the win and we are tired of losing."
Italy pushed England close before falling 17-12 at the Stadio Flaminio a fortnight ago, and Zanni believes the decision by coach Nick Mallett to continue with the same starting XV that confronted the English is a wise one.
"It's the right thing to do, to give confidence to the team that played so well against England," said Zanni, who was voted man of the match against Martin Johnson's side.
Mallett's team have won just one of their last 12 games in the Six Nations and are eager to improve after wooden-spoon performances in 2008 and last year. Zanni hopes the fans who provided such vocal support against England will give them the edge today: "We will need all the fans' support against Scotland. We can win this game."
The Italian view is that Scotland have been unfortunate – particularly after their last-gasp defeat to Wales in Cardiff – not to have recorded a victory this season. "Scotland are not the weakest team in the Six Nations," said Mirco Bergamasco, the Italian centre. "They played two great games against France and Wales; they are a group that have no fear.
"I think Scotland are more physical than Ireland and England. We will have to take control of the game from the start and not give them any opportunities to score. We must do even more than we did against England, be focused on defence and efficient in attack. We have worked the whole week to improve."
Scotland travel to Rome looking to improve on their recent performances against Italy. They triumphed 26-6 at Murrayfield last year but the Italians have held the upper handrecently, winning two of their last three meetings against the Scots.
Italy go to France next before ending the tournament in Cardiff against Wales on 20 March, and it will do their confidence a power of good should they travel to those two venues with a victory under their belt.
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