Italy played host to South Africa at Lidcombe oval on Saturday, with both sides coming off last start wins, this promised to be an entertaining match with the last match between both countries resulting in narrow victory to Italy.
With cold weather and frequent showers leading up to the match, it was a welcome site to see blue skies before the match.
Italy kicked off the game with South Africa receiving and completing their first set, Italy then responded with some big hit ups and quick play the balls which enabled some easy yardage which set up a line break and an offload to Italy number 13 Nikolas Lenaz to score in with just under 2 minutes played, the conversion was unsuccessful, and Italy led 4-0.
In the 8th minute Italy went on the attack again and recieved a 6 again call, Italy were then held up a few plays later but wernt to be denied and in the 9th minute, 2nd rower Alexander Myles got off a late off load to half back Todd Sapienza who was backing up, and he scored near the posts, try was converted by Italy fullback Daniel Atkinson. Italy 10-0
It was evident from the first 10 minutes that Italy were willing to shift the ball and were having success.
South Africa needed to be the next to score to prevent the game from getting away from them and in the 12th minute recieved a back to back set, which lead to a line break from half back Kam Cryer, who offloaded to fullback Luck DeVlieg, conversion was successful by kam Cryer and Italy led 10-6.
In the 18th minute the Italians were again on the attack with a swift cut out ball from Italy fullback Daniel Atkinson hitting winger Jack Piccirilli on the chest and diving down in the corner, the conversion attempt hit the cross bar and the score remained 14-6 to Italy.
South africa needed to muscle up in defence as some easy yardage was being made, and in the 24th minute with South Africa being aggressive in defence a penalty was given and things became a little heated, and Italy was given a penalty as a result..
In the 30th minute Italy thought they were over again but was called back for an obstruction. South Africa then marched down the field and had a good 5 minutes of sustained pressure but twice being denied due to a forward pass and a dropped ball with the line open.
36th minute Italy were attacking South Africa’s line and put in a chip and chase but knocked on, South African fullback Luke DeVlieg then picked up the ball and ran 90 metres, only to be taken into touch a few metres out.
From the resulting restart Italy went the length of the field, and forced a set restart, within 30 seconds Italy replacement 14 Dominic Biondi scored untouched under the posts try was converted right on half time for a 20-6 Italy lead, a definite 12 point turn around.
South Africa kicked off the 2nd half and needed to come out and be aggressive, and got off to the worst possible start giving away a penalty on the 2nd tackle through an illegal tackle which caused a scuffle and South Africa number 13 Aden Perry sent to the sin bin for 10 minutes.
The next set Italy number 14 Dominic Biondi scored under the posts, conversion was successful by Daniel Atkinson, Italy lead 26-6.
From the kick off there was a ray of hope with Italy knocking on, some good lead up work lead to South Africa replacement Josh Hill taking a hit up and diving over but unfortunately lost the ball, a vital chance missed by South Africa.
In the 49th minute Italy were in again, with a grubber leading to Italy number 16 Jack Colovath diving over and scoring, the conversion was successful and Italy now lead 32-6, to tries had been scored while South Africa were a man down.
In the 53rd minute Italy were in again through number 3 Kyle Pickering, and a few minutes later in the 58th minute were in again through Italy number 10 Anton Iaria, this was also converted and pushed the lead out to 44-6. With the game in danger of being blown away South Africa had to come up with something quickly and a try to Debutant 18 year old William Shears in the 65th minute who scored after following through a chip and chase was a good reward for a solid game from him try was unconverted and Italy led 44-10.
South Africa’s joy was short lived as Italy again scored through winger number 2. Jack Piccirilli under the posts, a successful conversion pushed the score to 50-10 to Italy.
With 10 minutes to go South Africa had to finish strong and gain some respectability on the scoreboard. In the 70th minute South Africa went over through centre number 4 Reilly Canning, conversion was successful drawing South Africa closer, Italy led 50-16.
In the 76th minute another try to South African Debutant William Shears pushed the score to Italy 50 -20.
A few hectic last minutes didn’t result in any further scoring.
While the scoreline read 50/20 and many may seem the game as one sided, South Africa definitely did have their chances and will definitely rue their first 10 minutes and the few minutes before half time, as well as the sin binning, both teams will look to be playing in the World cup World series qualifiers over the next few years.