Looking to bounce back following last weekend’s loss narrow loss to Ireland in Dublin, No. 1 New Zealand head to Rome to take on No. 14 Italy inside the Stadio Olimpico for their final international test match of 2018.
For those in the United States looking to watch, the match is scheduled to start at 9 a.m. ET. While it won’t be broadcast on television anywhere in the US, you can still watch a live stream of the match on your computer, phone or streaming device via ESPN+, the new digital streaming service from ESPN that broadcasts dozens of international rugby matches.
You can sign up for a free 7-day trial of ESPN+ right here, and you can then watch a live stream of Italy vs New Zealand on your computer via ESPN.com, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the ESPN app.
If you can’t watch live, all games–including Italy vs New Zealand–that are streamed on ESPN+ are also available to be watched on-demand via ESPN.com or the ESPN app.
Though they remain No. 1 in the world, the reigning world champions have displayed some cracks in the armor as of late. The All Blacks split two matches against South Africa in the Rugby Championship in September and October, they defeated England by just one point a couple of weeks ago, and they were beaten by Ireland, `6-9, in Dublin last weekend.
The latter result is perhaps the most concerning for Steve Hansen’s side, as the second loss to Ireland in the last three head-to-head matches has many regarding the Irish as the new favorites for the World Cup next year in Japan.
Nevertheless, the All Blacks have an opportunity Saturday to put that loss in the rear-view mirror and work on improving. They’re focused on Italy, and focused on getting a positive result to end the year.
“I think that sort of result [Ireland] is going to leave a wee bit in the gut over the summer for a couple of months but it’s about this week and hopefully we can improve from the weekend,” hooker Dane Coles said. “We just have to move on and use that fuel, and that hurt, and channel it the right way.”
New Zealand has won all 13 head-to-head matches against Italy, including a 68-10 thumping in their last meeting in November 2016. Still, they aren’t taking this match for granted.
“They pushed Australia hard so we’ll spend more time on the computers just seeing the way and some trends, and then parking that up and focusing on us,” Coles said.
Italy’s November international matches have been mostly disappointing. They were thrashed by Ireland, 54-7, then followed that up with a 28-17 win against Georgia but fell to Australia, 26-7, last weekend in Padova. As a result, they’ve dropped a spot to No. 14 in the world rankings.
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