New Zealand 101 - 3 Italy
Well the score says it all really... Apart from the first 45 seconds when Italy stormed towards the New Zealand line, the match was a completely one sided battle in every respect. The only facet of the game in which Italy managed to comprehensively outscore the All Blacks was the penalty count.
Still, I'm glad I dragged myself out of bed at 1am because there were some high points. And these were the rapt expressions on the faces of some of the second string AB's as they dotted down their first tries for their country. Tony Brown, Dylan Mika, Daryl Gibson, Scott Robertson and Mark Hammett all notched up their first tries and were no doubt shouting the beers after the game. Best of all was Jeff Wilson's small celebration as he dotted down for his 36th test try which leaves him standing alone at the top of the try scoring record book, one ahead of John Kirwan. A well deserved record and one that is going to be hard to beat by the time Wilson's career is over.
The most frustrating part of the game was the awful tactics of the Italians. They truly deserved the thrashing they received. They appeared to have two tactics:
- If they had the ball, they kicked it away
- If they didn't, they moved up offside... so far offside they might as well have stood next to their opposite numbers!
But the All Blacks did the right thing, keeping the ball in hand and persevering until Fleming finally issued a strong warning to the Italian captain and his backs allowed the game some breathing space.
Tony Brown's goal kicking game was exceptional. He slotted his fist ten attempts from everywhere on the park. His tactical kicking came right, but early on he missed touch when he should have nailed it. Not that it mattered because the Italians generously kicked it back to him so he could have another crack.
Glen Osborne is a stand out runner. So deceptive... he cut the Italians to ribbons. He had a cracker and I'm glad he crossed that magic tryline..
Taine Randell had a reasonable game, but I am now more than suspicious that he suffers quite badly from nerves. He came sooooo close to dropping the pass to him staright after the opening kick off, and took some time to get into his rhythm.
All in all, a reasonable spectacle in terms of running rugby, but lacking completely in intensity. In reality, Italy wouldn't have beaten any of the Super12 teams this year, and I doubt they'd have a win in the New Zealand NPC 1st Division either! Having seen the Samoa vs Wales result, I know which game I should have dragged myself out of bed for!