Italy's Sergio Parisse (R) tries to get past Tonga's Halani
Aulika during their rugby test at Rigamonti stadium in
Brescia. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo
Italy beat Tonga 28-23 in Brescia in an error-prone
performance that showed up how much they need to improve for
tougher challenges to come.
First-half tries to front-rowers Lorenzo Cittadini and
Leonardo Ghiraldini, as well as a penalty try awarded just
after the hour, were enough to see the Azzurri to their third
They still have significant work to do, however, to move up
to the level of their Six Nations rivals - let alone New
Zealand and Australia, who they meet over the next two weeks.
"I'm happy...because above all we won, despite having
committed a lot of errors, which we will work on in the
week," said 29-year-old prop Cittadini, who only started
playing the sport when he was 16-years-old and supported
local team Rugby Brescia as a boy.
"We know that we have to do better next week, however I
couldn't have hoped for better than this today."
Italy got off to a fast start, crossing the line with only
six minutes gone thanks to man-of-the-match Cittadini, but
Tonga were more than a match for their hosts and pulled into
the lead through prop Alisona Taumalolo just after the half
Ghiraldini grabbed the lead back for the hosts on the stroke
of halftime, handing them an 18-16 advantage heading into the
Italy thought they had the match sewn up when they were
awarded a penalty try, converted by Kris Burton, just after
the hour which extended their lead to 12 points.
However Jacques Brunel's side, who still haven't shaken off
their habit of making unforced errors, went to sleep and
allowed Fetu'u Vainikolo to pounce onto a smart diagonal kick
on 67 minutes to shave the deficit to only five points.
Italy managed to hold on to their lead however, and record a
welcome confidence boost ahead of the tougher challenges to
come against the world champion All Blacks, and Australia.