Italy beef up front row for physical clash with Boks

Nov 17 (Reuters) - Buoyant Italy have two changes to their starting line-up for the autumn international series fixture against South Africa in Genoa on Saturday, with prop Pietro Ceccarelli and hooker Giacomo Nicotera coming into the front row.

Coach Kieran Crowley has otherwise resisted changes from the side that stunned Australia with a 28-27 win in Florence last weekend, as they take aim at a Springbok side that has narrowly lost both their autumn series games against Ireland and France.

Livewire fullback Ange Capuozzo will be a key weapon again as part of a back three that also includes wings Pierre Bruno and Montanna Ioane, while the centre pairing is Luca Morisi and Juan Ignacio Brex. Flyhalf Tommaso Allan and Stephen Varney continue as the halfback duo.

Ceccarelli and Nicotera beef up a front row that also has prop Danilo Fischetti and is expected to come under huge pressure from the powerful Bok pack.

Niccolò Cannone and Federico Ruzza are at lock, while number eight Lorenzo Cannone packs down with flankers Sebastian Negri and captain Michele Lamaro.

"We achieved a historic result against Australia, but we are not satisfied. The following day the focus was immediately shifted to South Africa," Crowley said in a media release from the Italian Rugby Federation.

"It will be a very intense match from a physical point of view. We have studied our opponents and prepared ourselves in the best possible way. We will continue on this path by showing that we are competitive in every game."

Italy have had previous success against the Boks when they won 20-18 in an autumn series clash in 2016.

Team: 15-Ange Capuozzo, 14-Pierre Bruno, 13-Juan Ignacio Brex, 12-Luca Morisi, 11-Montanna Ioane, 10-Tommaso Allan, 9-Stephen Varney, 8-Lorenzo Cannone, 7-Michele Lamaro (captain), 6-Sebastian Negri, 5-Federico Ruzza, 4-Niccolò Cannone, 3-Pietro Ceccarelli, 2-Giacomo Nicotera, 1-Danilo Fischetti

Replacements: 16-Gianmarco Lucchesi, 17-Ivan Nemer, 18-Simone Ferrari, 19-David Sisi, 20-Manuel Zuliani, 21-Alessandro Garbisi, 22-Edoardo Padovani, 23-Tommaso Menoncello

Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Alex Richardson

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