Sunday, November 15, 2009
There was an amazing atmosphere at the San Siro in Milan on Saturday as Italy fought hard against the All Blacks in front of an incredible 80 000 rugby fans, but went down 20-6 in the end.
New Zealand coach Graham Henry fielded a largely second string side, with Ben Smith, Mike Delany and Tamati Ellison all making their test debuts. In the past a second string side would still manage 50 against the Italians though, who normally struggle with depth.
The lack of cohesion within the All Blacks side showed, as they lacked fluency on attack and made a number of mistakes.
"It is just a pity that the game didn't live up to its billing," Henry said. "There was a lot of errors on both sides, but it was a very good experience for our young players. There were three making their debuts and others who hadn't played a lot of test rugby, so it was a good experience for them."
The home side led briefly though as flyhalf Craig Gower kicked a penalty before the All Blacks shot ahead with two Luke McAlister penalties and a Corey Flynn try after 25 minutes.
McAlister landed another kick, and it was 14-3 to the visitors at the halftime break.
He slotted another kick early in the second half, while Italian centre Gonzalo Garcia was sent to the sin bin for a dangerous tackle in midfield.
Italys forwards put huge amounts of pressure on the All Blacks in the scrum, and won a penalty for their efforts in the 57th minute, which Gower duly slotted. McAlister got another penalty with just over 10 minutes left, but it was Italy who looked most likely to score.
The pressure at the scrum told as Neemia Tialata was eventually yellow carded following numerous collapsed scrums.
"There was one area of the game in which we were better and that was the scrum," Italy coach Nick Mallett said.
"You try to use your strengths to try and score, so you become very disappointed when after seven minutes and five scrums you aren't allowed to score a try.
"As far as I'm concerned if a referee has seen four penalties and he has shown a prop a yellow card, I think we should have had a penalty try."
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