Bergamasco boot gives Italy win

Sat, 27 Nov 15:09:00 2010

Mirco Bergamasco's flawless place kicking helped Italy battle back from a woeful first half to beat Fiji 24-16 in their final November Test on Saturday.

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Fiji, 10th in the world rankings and looking to stay ahead of 12th-ranked Italy going into next year's World Cup in New Zealand, seemed to have the game in the bag but the hosts had other ideas.

"It's wonderful, the effort and enormous toil gave us this victory, we really are so happy even if maybe we didn't play the best international rugby," winger Bergamasco said.

The visitors burst into the lead with a try after nine minutes when hooker Tuapati Talemaitoga, later carried off on a stretcher, bundled his way through and reached for the line following a bout of pressure.

Seremaia Bai's trusty boot added the conversion and three penalties during the first period as Italy again lacked discipline and just before the break Martin Castrogiovanni was sinbinned for delaying the play of the ball.

The yellow card looked harsh and Italy coach Nick Mallett shook his head as he came down from the stands to give his side a halftime blast after they had only managed three penalties from Bergamasco and little endeavour in Fiji's 22.

The Azzurri, beaten by Argentina and Australia in their other two November Tests, reacted with a great start to the second half and cut the gap with two more Bergamasco penalties after Fiji failed to take advantage of having a man extra.

Fiji had lost to France but drawn with Wales earlier in the month and the islanders always looked more threatening with the ball in hand than pack-led Italy, whose handling was again sloppy at times.

However, Bergamasco kicked his sixth, seventh and eighth penalties to put Italy clear and they can now look forward to February's Six Nations with more confidence following a second win of the year.

Reuters

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