Anyone coming to the International Rugby match; Italy vs Samoa?

11/26/2009 - 09:30

Anyone coming to the game between Italy and Samoa on Saturday in Ascoli?



Having spent the previous week with the Samoan team; (As responsible for Italy for Rhino Rugby I supplied their contact training kit; plus personally technical advice for their kickers;) I was able to assist in their preparations 'first hand'. Sadly they were a tired and homesick bunch; great company but oviously reflecting that this was indeed a game too far.The hospitality and organisation at the Del Duca Stadium in Ascoli Piceno was outstanding; hospitality village in full flow; beer, food and DJ led music and events, but the game....Having also spent some time with the Italian team in their build up (Jean and I are adopted 'Aunty and Uncle' to Mauro Bergamasco and a few others) I also got the impression that they too were about to undertake 'a game too far...'.Blessed with warm sunshine after a doubtful rainy start to the morning; the stadium presented small, friendly and nicely formed; full to overflowing (although I had 3 spare tickets) with over 17,000 spectators. An incredible partisan crowd, although firmly behind their countrymen (on analysis this may be too much of a presumption) were also respectful towards the visitors, and the game period began with a very touching tribute to the people of L'Aquila - the whole stadium on its' feet to show support and applaud. Italy entered the stadium wearing 'Forza L'Aquila' solidarity tracksuit tops following their visit to the Abruzzo capital a couple of days previous.Early in the game Italy took the ball to Samoa, and a snakey run by Luke Maclean led to a great individual try. The new item of Mirko Bergamansco as place kicker however needs to be reviewed, as although ever willing he needs lots of work to make this choice work.The much vaunted Italian scrum failed to perform in the dominant way expected, although they were maybe saving energy for other elements of play. The Italian lineout suffered, even though none of the Samoans were even 1.90 tall, they still managed to steal a couple of Italian throw-ins.Lack of vision in the Italian backs meant that the ball was too frequently kicked away rather than moved out wide, where players with great experience such as Kaine Robertson were unable to draw on their array of skills to take the 'Azzuri' downfield. With the Italian number 10 coming from Rugby League and not able to re-cycle the ball in contact (I have the impression that after being tackled Gower was wating for the referee to whistle for the League 'Play the Ball') Italy needs to play more with their heads up; searching and scanning for gaps in the opposition rather than simply putting the blinkers on.The game dwindled from sparkling start to dim end, Italy gaining a penalty try after the Samoans - absolutely by this time 'on their uppers' infringed and the engagement; collapsed the unit, and basically gave up.Positives can however be drawn from a great improvement in defence by Italy; convincing tackles made when 2 years ago the 'Park Traffic Cop' attitude would have simply waved an opponent by, and in some respects interlinking between forwards and backs better than before.At the end that phrase we all know too well from school; " doing well, but with a bit more effort...."