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#RLWC2017 MATCH PREVIEW | Italy Azzurri vs USA Hawks

Italy and the United States will be looking to keep their Rugby League World Cup hopes alive when they meet in Townsville on Sunday.

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It’s been an eventful week for the Azzurri after going down to Ireland in Cairns in their opening match of the tournament.  This was headlined by an off-field incident between star fullback James Tedesco and forward Shannon Wakeman which resulted in both players being handed a $10,000AU fine.  Former Canberra Raiders five-eighth Terry Campese is back in the squad after being a late withdrawal from their 36-12 loss.  His direction in general play was missing last week as Scott Grix led the Irish to victory.

The United States side were no match for the star-studded Fiji Bati, at one stage conceding a point a minute before going down 58-12.  There will be a heavy reliance on the Hawks professional players in the side – Eddy Pettybourne, Junior Vaivai and Bureta Fariamo for the 2013 World Cup quarter-finalists to stay alive in the tournament.

KEY BATTLE

St George-Illawarra Dragons prop Paul Vaughan will come up against Pettybourne in an interesting forward battle.  Vaughan has been a consistent performer at NRL level and in his first season for the Red V almost lifted his side to finals football.  Pettybourne had a frustrated 2017 as he struggled with injury and has been released by the Titans.  He is looking to return to the UK to resume his career.  A strong effort in this game will enhance his chances of finding a new home.

PREDICTION

This is the first time both sides have met at International level and it’s expected that Italy have too much player experience to be troubled by the United States side.

Italy by 36

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SQUADS

Sunday November 5, 4pm at Townsville Stadium

Italy squad: 1 James Tedesco 2 Mason Cerruto 3 Justin Castellaro 4 Nathan Milone 5 Josh Mantellato 6 Terry Campese 7 Ryan Ghietti 8 Paul Vaughan 9 Joseph Tramontana 10 Daniel Alvaro 11 Joel Riethmuller 12 Mark Minichiello (C) 13 Nathan Brown 14 Christopher Centrone 15 Brendan Santi 16 Shannon Wakeman 17 Jayden Walker 18 Gavin Hiscox 19 Richard Lepori 20 Christophe Calegari 21 Gioele Celerino

USA squad: 1 Corey Makelim 2 Ryan Burroughs 3 Junior Vaivai 4 Jonathan Alley 5 Bureta Faraimo 6 Kristian Freed 7 Tui Samoa 8 Eddy Pettybourne 9 David Marando 10 Mark Offerdahl (C) 11 Danny Howard 12 Matt Shipway 13 Nicholas Newlin 14 Sam Tochterman-Talbott 15 Fotukava Malu 16 Steve Howard 17 Gabriel Farley 18 Charles Cortalano 19 Joe Eichner 20 David Ulch 21 Joshua Rice

Editor of nothingbutleague since site inception in 2013. Massive Penrith Panthers fan (Member 13120). Email: mattpnbl@outlook.com

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