Saturday, November 14, 2009

All Blacks not so ready for Italy

New Zealand defeated Italy 20-6 in the wonderful frame of a completely full San Siro Stadium, featuring more than 80.000 supporters. But the black pack was really disappointing, and Ellis surely doesn't have the fastest hands around: the Italian scrum really bashed them beyond any hope. The official website reports

However, in the last six minutes as 13 successive scrums were set five metres from the All Blacks line, and Neemia Tialata, having changed to the loosehead prop was sin-binned for taking a scrum down, the Italians were not able to get past a determined All Blacks pack.

What they forgot to mention is that those 13 scrums derived from as many penalties awarded by the referee due to a literally humiliated pack that could only but cheat to prevent Italy from rolling over them. Parisse after the match said to Dickinson that he should have taken a decision, awarding a well deserved technical try. Well, he simply didn't. It wouldn't have changed the outcome of the match, but it would mean a lot for Italians. Scoring a try against New Zealand is something you bring with you for a lifetime, and I know what I'm talking about. Today Italy have been stolen this achievement. Would Dickinson take the same decision if Italy collapsed the scrum for so many times? Surely in the Six Nations against England just a few years ago Italy was punished for much less. Anyway. My friend Pancho, who was just above that small plot of land ploughed and ploughed by the forwards, pretty much agrees with me, and he says that also all the other 80.000 supporters do. At last this was not just an opinion of mine, was it?

The Italian movement has surely grown, but it is not enough, like the last Six Nations has shown. Their growth also passes through matches like this: a lost opportunity, a good match with a bitter taste. Will the Federation be able to choose the right strategy to keep the movement growing? Let's put the matter off...

That said, the stadium was wonderful, the anthems were very exciting and the haka was thrilling, as always (as an aside: I'm talking about the Ka Mate, as I never liked the Kapa O Pango). Pity that today the All Blacks didn't have much more to offer.

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