All Blacks' second half display demolishes Azzurri
ROME - A dominant second-half display by a largely experimental New Zealand team ended Italy’s hopes of causing a monumental upset in a 42-10 reverse at the Olympic Stadium on Saturday.
Italy went into the test with 11 previous defeats to the All Blacks but went in to the interval only 13-7 down after stand-in captain Kieran Read touched down for the visitors and Alberto Sgarbi had replied for Italy.
But Steve Hansen’s side, fresh from a 51-22 mauling of Scotland and ahead of upcoming tests against Wales and England, waited for the Azzurri to tire before turning on the power in the second half.
A sell-out crowd of close to 80,000 turned up and for the best part of the first 15 minutes their spirits were raised with some positive play from Italy.
On nine minutes Andrea Massi and winger Giovambattista Venditti combined to break down the right and into New Zealand’s 22, only for the ball to go to a scrum which the visitors won.
New Zealand soon began to dominate in midfield, however, and four minutes later an Aaron Cruden penalty put the first points on the board for the visitors.
New Zealand’s first try came on 16 minutes.
From the scrum Aaron Smith fed Read, who pushed through the Italian line before going to ground. Conrad Smith, however, was quick to take possession and he drew the Italy defence before offloading for Read to charge over for the try.
Cruden added two points with an easy conversion.
Italy bounced back and on 25 minutes the Azzurri’s persistence was rewarded when Sgarbi went over for a deserved try.
Italy headed for the dressing rooms trailing only 13-7, but only four minutes after the restart Cruden put another three points on the board from a penalty after Leonardo Ghiraldini was ruled to have interfered with play.
Four minutes later and despite the best intentions of Mirco Bergamsaco Ma’a Nonu touched down for the All Blacks second try, with Cruden converting for 23-7.
Italy coach Brunel made a series of subsitutions with Alberto De Marchi on for Ghiraldini and Davide Giazzon replacing Andrea Lo Cicero and they added much needed impetus – though, it only saw them add a drop goal through Orquera which took the scores to 23-10.
With fatigue setting in, Brunel made more changes but they were unable to stop the constant waves of All Black attacks and finally with 13 minutes remaining they gave way.
Cory Jane strolled over for the try and Cruden adding the conversion which was quickly followed by a brace from Julian Savea – the first was not converted by Cruden but he made no mistake with his second to round off the scoring.