Fitzpatrick’s side scraped to victory against Scotland in their opening game last weekend (22-15) and were thankful their opponents failed to land a number of penalties in the second half. Fitzpatrick has vowed to learn the lessons from their trip to Broadwood Stadium when they face an improving Italy in Stadio Tommaso Fattori.
“The main issues we had against Scotland were around discipline. We gave away too many penalties, put them on the front foot. Things like handling errors, as well, really let us down. Those are very, very fixable things. We’d be looking to put it right this weekend.”
Fitzpatrick has pinpointed the areas where Ireland must be wary.
“They’ll be tough. Their scrum-half, Sara Barattin, she’ll be one of their key players. Their back-three will attack from anywhere. They’ll counter, and they’re good kickers, as well.”
The Irish side shows two changes from the Scotland encounter, with Highfield’s Elaine Anthony and Hannah Tyrrell replacing Orla Fitzsimons and Niamh Kavanagh, respectively. Anthony partners Marie-Louise Reilly in the second-row, while Tyrrell (who featured for the Sevens squad in Sydney last weekend) joins Mairead Coyne and the prolific Alison Miller in the back-three. Jenny Murphy and Sene Naoupu continue their midfield partnership, and recent debutant Alisa Hughes is again paired with Nora Stapleton at half-back. The front-row Leah Lyons, Lindsay Peat, and Ailis Egan are expected to face a physical challenge from Italy and, in a potent back-row, UL Bohemians’ Ciara Griffin will join Fitzpatrick and Claire Molloy. 2015 World Player of the Year nominee Sophie Spence is on the replacements bench.
M Furlan; M Sillari, M Cioffi, S Stefan, M Magati; B Rigoni, S Barattin; E Cucchiella, M Bettoni, L Gai; F Severin, A Trevisan; L Cammarano, I Locatelli, E Giordano.
M Ferrari, G Giacomoli, M Este, E Pillotti, I Arrighetti, S Salvadego, S Folli, P Zangirolami.