Planet Rugby

All Blacks survive at San Siro

14th November 2009 15:51

Share:

Andy Ellis hit by Carlo del Fava

Getting physical: Andy Ellis is met firmly by Carlo Antonio Del Fava

New Zealand avoided a potential European banana skin on Saturday in an historic 20-6 victory over Italy.

Despite holding a two-score cushion with just eight minutes remaining, the second-string visitors were under serious pressure which arguably should have translated into a penalty try after several scrum resets close to the line.

The passionate crowd were baying for official Stuart Dickinson to make the short jog under the poles. He did not and the All Blacks escaped.

In the end the 80 minutes did not match the occasion though. Welcome banners for New Zealand added to the warm reception during pre-game, which they had also received all week in the fashion capital. However, they seemed to find the atmosphere and expectation a little overwhelming in a disjointed overall effort.

Players who were handed chances to impress such as Mike Delany, Tanerau Latimer and Ben Smith struggled in their quest to impress ahead of facing England next week, with the latter fumbling his first touch in the full Test jumper.

Bledisloe Cup holders New Zealand were also comprehensively beaten up front and in the aforementioned scrums by Leicester's destroyer Martin Castrogiovanni alongside experienced loosehead Salvatore Perugini.

In the middle of that grizzly duo was an in-form hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini, who proved a constant livewire for Italy and was slighly more deserving than opposite number Corey Flynn in claiming the only try of the first period..scratch that, the game.

It took the visitors a full 26 minutes to cross for that five-pointer, which was slightly against the run of play after Sitiveni Sivivatu delicately shipped the ball out to his hooker wide out.

That was the only attacking highlight of the first 40 but the overall moment came when, on two occasions, Italy demolished the All Black scrum. It was quite a sight that pleased captain Sergio Parisse no end.

Many had predicted a strong opening from the home side, who were being cheered on by such names as soccer veterans Clarence Seedorf and Alessandro Del Piero.

A single penalty goal from Craig Gower on four minutes due to Wyatt Crockett being penalised at the set-piece got the crowd upright. However, for all their spirit and the leadership of Parisse, Italy were unfortunate to find themselves 3-14 down at the break.

The neutral was predicting a closely-fought opening to this one before the opening of the floodgates when Graham Henry rolled on the likes of Richie McCaw, Andrew Hore, Jimmy Cowan and Mils Muliaina. But that proved not to be the case as it was in fact the hosts who grew as the game wore on - the territorial statistics over the final 40 minutes act as proof, Italy had 60 per cent.

But for all their field position they lacked any threatening ideas under the playmaking nous of Gower, who had an off-day in general play. One would imagine the New Zealand of old to have subsequently made them pay.

Not so, as Luke McAlister missed more than he made from the tee in Milan, with the width of a post summing up the former Sale man's own luck with the boot.

But the centre finally found his range on 44 minutes before Parisse lifted his troops for the final ten minutes. How they responded from being 6-20 behind.

Italy set up camp five metres from the black whitewash and were gunning for a score that would reward the 77,000 spectators who had come out to pack the San Siro.

Wave after wave of attacks from their imperious scrum had Dickinson pressured to award them seven points in what was a fitting finish in this special Test fixture. But Dickinson pooped the party.

Man of the match: Leonardo Ghiraldini was strong during the first period but the overall performance of Sergio Parisse was once again unparalleled. The Paris number eight got the better of opposite number Rodney So'oialo and proved his ever-growing global reputation with an excellent 80 minutes as leader.

Moment of the match: The final eight minutes in Milan summed up the spirit of the Azzurri. Close to ten scrum resets almost gave them a much-needed seven points but it wasn't to be. 80,000 stood to applaud the effort and Nick Mallett will be oh so proud of his pack.

Villain of the match: No one really stands out in either camp.

The scorers:

For Italy:
Pens: Gower 2

For New Zealand:
Tries:
Flynn
Pens: McAlister 5

Italy: 15 Luke McLean, 14 Kaine Robertson, 13 Gonzalo Canale, 12 Gonzalo Garcia, 11 Mirco Bergamasco, 10 Craig Gower, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Sergio Parisse, 7 Mauro Bergamasco, 6 Alessandro Zanni, 5 Quintin Geldenhuys, 4 Carlo Antonio Del Fava, 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Salvatore Perugini.
Replacements: 16 Fabio Ongaro, 17 Ignacio Rouyet, 18 Antonio Pavanello, 19 Simone Favaro, 20 Simon Picone, 21 Kristopher Burton, 22 Alberto Sgarbi

New Zealand: 15 Cory Jane, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Luke McAlister, 11 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 10 Mike Delany, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Rodney So'oialo, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Anthony Boric, 4 Tom Donnelly, 3 Neemia Tialata, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Andrew Hore, 17 John Afoa, 18 Jason Eaton, 19 Richie McCaw, 20 Jimmy Cowan, 21 Stephen Donald, 22 Mils Muliaina.

Referee: Stuart Dickinson (Australia)
Assistant referees: Alain Rolland (Ireland), David Changleng (Scotland)
Television match official: Tim Hayes (Wales)
Assessor: Michel Lamoulie (France)

By Adam Kyriacou

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 19
Gloucester vs Exeter19:45
Saturday , September 20
Sale vs London Welsh14:00
London Irish vs Saracens15:00
Harlequins vs Wasps15:00
Bath vs Leicester15:15
Sunday , September 21
Newcastle vs Northampton14:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , September 19
Munster vs Zebre19:30
Cardiff Blues vs Ulster19:35
Connacht vs Leinster19:35
Saturday , September 20
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Glasgow14:40
Scarlets vs Benetton Treviso18:00
Sunday , September 21
Ospreys vs Edinburgh16:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , September 19
Brive vs Toulon18:00
Saturday , September 20
Racing Metro Paris vs Toulouse18:00
La Rochelle vs Bordeaux-Begles18:00
Grenoble vs Bayonne18:00
Castres vs Oyonnax18:00
Clermont Auvergne vs Lyon18:00
Montpellier vs Stade Francais18:00
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , September 19
Lions vs Pumas19:10
Saturday , September 20
Western Province vs Griquas15:00
Blue Bulls vs Sharks17:05
Eastern Province Kings vs Cheetahs19:10
More Currie Cup fixtures
ITM Cup
Thursday , September 18
Northland vs TaranakiNorthland vs Taranaki Preview
Friday , September 19
Counties Manukau vs Canterbury19:35
More ITM Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
ITM Cup
Wednesday, September 17
Southland 14 - 38 TasmanSouthland vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , September 14
Wasps 20 - 16 NorthamptonWasps vs Northampton Report
Newcastle 18 - 20 London IrishNewcastle vs London Irish Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Cardiff Blues 12 - 33 GlasgowCardiff Blues vs Glasgow Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Bordeaux-Begles 27 - 21 MontpellierBordeaux-Begles vs Montpellier Report
More Top 14 results
ITM Cup
Waikato 26 - 21 Counties ManukauWaikato vs Counties Manukau Report
Hawkes Bay 41 - 0 Otago
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , September 13
Gloucester 34 - 27 Sale SharksGloucester vs Sale Sharks Report
Bath 53 - 26 London WelshBath vs London Welsh Report
Exeter 20 - 24 LeicesterExeter vs Leicester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Rugby Championship
New Zealand 14 - 10 South AfricaNew Zealand vs South Africa Report
Australia 32 - 25 ArgentinaAustralia vs Argentina Report
More Rugby Championship results
Guinness PRO12
Leinster 42 - 12 ScarletsLeinster vs Scarlets Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Toulouse 9 - 13 Clermont AuvergneToulouse vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Bayonne 23 - 6 Brive
Oyonnax 40 - 27 Grenoble
Racing Metro Paris 28 - 11 LyonRacing Metro Paris vs Lyon Report
Toulon 24 - 28 Stade FrancaisToulon vs Stade Francais Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Griquas 31 - 27 PumasGriquas vs Pumas Report
Lions 35 - 33 Western ProvinceLions vs Western Province Report
Cheetahs 30 - 30 SharksCheetahs vs Sharks Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Bay Of Plenty 12 - 27 AucklandBay Of Plenty vs Auckland Report
Southland 36 - 34 Northland
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 12
Harlequins 0 - 39 SaracensHarlequins vs Saracens Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Benetton Treviso 10 - 21 MunsterBenetton Treviso vs Munster Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens29
2Bath29
3Leicester Tigers29
4Exeter26
5Northampton26