Italy picked up their first win since June 2008 when they beat Samoa 24-6 at the Stadio del Duca on Saturday, ending their 13-match losing streak.
Luke McLeans excellent first half try set them on their way before Mirco Bergamasco kicked eight points, Craig Gower slotted a long range penalty, and Tito Tebaldi slotted a dropgoal. A penalty try late in the game then sealed the victory for Nick Mallets side.
“I’m happy, it was a good win,” winger Mirco Bergamasco said. “We had to win. It was something we had to do. Whether we won well, or won badly, we had to win.”
They were without inspirational leader Sergio Parisse, who is out for about four months after picking up a serious knee injury in training. He was operated on after the match, but was sideline, on crutches, to offer support.
Samoa struggled to get into the game, and didnt score a point in the second half. Having their winder red carded for a high tackle on fullback McLean didnt help matters.
Its the first time Italy has beaten Samoa in four matches played between the two sides.
“It has been a long time,” Italy coach Nick Mallett said. “Today, we were better than Samoa were and that was the main thing. I think our team had a good game, scoring 24 points, though it should have been 10 or 15 more.
“Mirco was kicking well in training this week, so we thought it would be worth trying him today,” Mallett said. “But everyone, Tito Tebaldi, Craig Gower, Luke McLean must work on their kicking to get it to international level.
“We kept the ball in their half, stayed disciplined and didn’t do anything stupid, but we made mistakes that we won’t be able to get away with in the Six Nations.”
Samoa go away from Europe empty handed after earlier losses to France and Wales. The majority of their players will join the Top 14 and Guinness Premiership, but will be disappointed at not having achieved more on tour.
After decent showings against New Zealand, South Africa, and now beating Samoa, Italy look the strongest theyve been for some time. Theyll go into the Six Nations with far more confidence than what they would have had a month ago.