Planet Rugby

Italy scrape past Tonga

10th November 2012 15:57

Share:

Luke Mclean of Italy is tackled by Siviteni Mafi of Tonga

Close call: Luke Mclean tackled by Siviteni Mafi

Italy needed three tries courtesy of their front row to scrape past Tonga in a hard-fought Test in Brescia on Saturday.

Italy warmed up for the visit of two heavyweights in the coming weeks with an unconvincing win over a feisty Tongan side.

With the All Blacks up next for Italy in Rome next week and Australia a week later, Azzurricoach Jacques Brunel came into the first of three November internationals claiming the pressure was off the Azzurri.

Having won the last two of their three fixtures against Tonga, Italy's starting 15 contained a mix of youth and experience with Tomasso Iannone making his full debut and a number of Italy regulars not making their appearance until the second half.

Tonga, meanwhile, came to perform and did so in a dominant first half which saw the hosts pull back in front only thanks to a late Leonardo Ghiraldini try that was converted by Kris Burton.

Tonga started strongly and took a third-minute lead when Fangatapu 'Apikotoa sent a penalty between the posts, however Italy replied almost immediately when Lorenzo Cittadini pushed over for their opening try in the sixth minute.

Tonga dominated an Italian line-out just outside their own 22 but from an attempted clearance the visitors gave up possession and Cittadini bundled the ball over the line.

Looking comfortable and more confident in their passing game, Tonga forced their way into Italy's 22 several times, and were rewarded for their efforts.

'Apikotoa kicked a penalty 10 minutes into the game but Burton restored the hosts' lead when he landed a penalty three minutes later.

Tonga's big break came when Italy captain Sergio Parisse was shown a yellow card in the 23rd minute for holding up play.

'Apikotoa kicked the penalty to give them a one-point lead and although Burton restored Italy's advantage with a penalty in the 27th minute Tonga were soon back in front with their opening try.

Italy had dominated the scrum but gave up possession, allowing Sione Piukala to carry the ball deep into territory where Italy's defence had to be at their best to repel the red tide.

As Tonga pushed forward they won a penalty, but kicked out for a line-out. Eventually, the ball found its way to Alisona Taumalolo deep on the left and he burst towards the corner flag to squeeze the ball in at the corner to put Tonga 11-14 ahead.

'Apikotoa converted from a tight angle near the 22 line to add two points, but Tonga's lead did not last long.

As half-time approached the Azzurrimoved up a gear and were rewarded after a determined push which saw Leonardo Ghiraldini cross over to level the scores. Burton handed Italy a two-point lead with the boot to stop the clock at 18-16.

Italy looked more organised and enjoyed better possession in the second half, but failed to finish several promising moves and Tonga proved a menace throughout.

A Burton penalty goal took the hosts' lead to 21-16 in the 52nd minute, and on the hour mark both sides made a series of substitutions.

Martin Castrogiovanni's arrival made an almost immediate impact for Italy and the hosts extended their lead with a penalty try on 63 minutes.

Burton converted to take Italy to 28 points, but a defiant Tonga scored a try through Vainikolo after a good run on the left brought the scores to 28-23 after 'Akipotoa had converted with the boot.

The scorers:

For Italy:
Tries: Taumalolo, Vainikolo
Cons: 'Apikotoa 2
Pens: 'Apikotoa 3
Yellow cards: Parisse

For Tonga:
Tries: Cittadini, Ghiraldini, Penalty try
Cons: Burton 2
Pens: Burton 3
Yellow cards: Lokotui, Lilo

Italy: 15 Andrea Masi, 14 Tommaso Iannone, 13 Tommaso Benvenuti, 12 Alberto Sgarbi, 11 Luke McLean, 10 Kristopher Burton, 9 Tobias Botes, 8 Sergio Parisse (capt), 7 Robert Barbieri, 6 Alessandro Zanni, 5 Joshua Furno, 4 Quintin Geldenhuys, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini 1 Andrea Lo Cicero.
Replacements: 16 Davide Giazzon, 17 Alberto De Marchie, 18 Martin Castrogiovanni 19 Antonio Pavanello, 20 Simone Favaro, 21 Edoardo Gori, 22 Luciano Orquera, 23 Giovambattista Venditti.

Tonga: 15 Vungakoto Lilo, 14 Fetu'u Vainikolo, 13 Sukanaivalu Hufanga, 12 Sione Piukala, 11 Viliami Helu, 10 Fangatapu 'Apikotoa, 9 Taniela Moa (capt), 8 Viliami Ma'afu, 7 Sione Vaiomo'unga, 6 Sitiveni Mafi, 5 Tukulua Lokotui, 4 Joe Tu'ineau, 3 Halani 'Aulika, 2 Elvis Taione, 1 Alisona Taumalolo.
Replacements: 16 Ilaisa Ma'asi, 17 Tevita Mailau, 18 Hale T-Pole, 19 Paula Kaho, 20 Samisoni Fisilau, 21 Alipate Fatafehi, 22 Viliame Iongi, 23 Soane Tonga'uiha.

Venue: Stadio Mario Rigamonti, Brescia
Referee: Greg Garner (England)
Assistant referees: Alain Rolland (Ireland), Mathieu Raynal (France)
Television match official: Eric Gauzins (France)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , April 18
Harlequins vs LeicesterHarlequins vs Leicester Preview
Saturday , April 19
Exeter vs Sale15:00
Bath vs Worcester15:00
Wasps vs Gloucester15:15
Sunday , April 20
Northampton vs London Irish14:00
Newcastle vs Saracens15:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
RaboDirect PRO12
Friday , April 18
Leinster vs Benetton TrevisoLeinster vs Benetton Treviso Preview
Glasgow vs UlsterGlasgow vs Ulster Preview
Saturday , April 19
Zebre vs Edinburgh14:30
Connacht vs Munster18:15
Sunday , April 20
Cardiff Blues vs Scarlets14:00
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Ospreys16:45
More RaboDirect PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , April 18
Castres vs MontpellierCastres vs Montpellier Preview
Saturday , April 19
Oyonnax vs Toulouse14:55
Perpignan vs Toulon17:00
Grenoble vs Bayonne18:30
Biarritz vs Brive18:30
Racing Metro Paris vs Clermont AuvergneRacing Metro Paris vs Clermont Auvergne Preview
Stade Francais vs Bordeaux-Begles20:35
More Top 14 fixtures
Super Rugby
Friday , April 18
Hurricanes vs BluesHurricanes vs Blues Preview
Melbourne Rebels vs Western Force19:40
Saturday , April 19
Chiefs vs Crusaders19:35
Waratahs vs Bulls19:00
Sharks vs Cheetahs15:00
Stormers vs Lions17:05
More Super Rugby fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , April 13
Saracens 28 - 24 NorthamptonSaracens vs Northampton Report
London Irish 40 - 12 NewcastleLondon Irish vs Newcastle Report
Saturday , April 12
Worcester 33 - 38 ExeterWorcester vs Exeter Report
Leicester 27 - 15 WaspsLeicester vs Wasps Report
Gloucester 17 - 18 BathGloucester vs Bath Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Benetton Treviso 45 - 27 Newport Gwent D'gonsBenetton Treviso vs Newport Gwent D
Scarlets 27 - 20 ZebreScarlets vs Zebre Report
Munster 5 - 22 GlasgowMunster vs Glasgow Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Bordeaux-Begles 20 - 22 ToulonBordeaux-Begles vs Toulon Report
Toulouse 16 - 9 BriveToulouse vs Brive Report
Grenoble 30 - 36 Montpellier
Perpignan 22 - 12 Oyonnax
Bayonne 24 - 19 Stade Francais
Racing Metro Paris 37 - 7 Biarritz
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Chiefs 22 - 16 Melbourne RebelsChiefs vs Melbourne Rebels Report
Western Force 28 - 16 WaratahsWestern Force vs Waratahs Report
Lions 12 - 25 SharksLions vs Sharks Report
Cheetahs 31 - 52 CrusadersCheetahs vs Crusaders Report
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , April 11
Sale Sharks 12 - 27 HarlequinsSale Sharks vs Harlequins Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Ulster 58 - 12 ConnachtUlster vs Connacht Report
Edinburgh 22 - 29 Cardiff BluesEdinburgh vs Cardiff Blues Report
Ospreys 25 - 19 LeinsterOspreys vs Leinster Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Clermont Auvergne 23 - 11 CastresClermont Auvergne vs Castres Report
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Highlanders 27 - 20 BullsHighlanders vs Bulls Report
Reds 20 - 23 BrumbiesReds vs Brumbies Report
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens1976
2Northampton1966
3Leicester Tigers1963
4Bath1959
5Harlequins1954