In somewhat of a boilover at the Rugby League World Cup, the Italian side have produced what is arguably an upset with a convincing win over Scotland.
Led by talismanic NRL forward Nathan Brown, from the first minute of the game, the Italians had the ball on a string and produced some crafty and attractive play to get the win.
Both sides felt each other out for the first ten minutes before a deft grubber in behind put the Italians ahead.
Radean Robinson’s grubber went through the line and Luke Polselli got to the ball in the nick of time to ground it prior to it going out.
Upon the bunker’s confirmation, Jack Campagnolo stepped up to slot the conversion for the Italian side.
After taking control of the game following their first try, the Italians got their second as Dean Parata scooped the ball up from dummy half as he sliced through some lazy defence.
Campagnolo had a simple conversion and made no mistake to put the Italians up 12-0.
The Scottish luck went from bad to worse when Dale Ferguson was sent off for a dangerous tackle, crushing the calf of an Italian player.
After the break, the Italians kept their foot on the throttle as Sunshine Coast Falcons winger Jake Maizen grabbed the first of his three tries.
The left side raid saw Maizen back himself to score despite Scottish defenders all over him.
Campagnolo made sideline conversions look easy as he slotted it with near ease for an 18-0 lead.
Some crafty play by Luke Polselli at dummy half saw the Italians go even further ahead.
Polselli went down the short side and caught the Scottish defence napping as Maizen tiptoed down the sideline for his second try.
Campagnolo missed his first kick of the night, another from the sideline.
The game then mellowed out somewhat as both sides went tit-for-tat in attack, both holding each other out.
It took a piece of individual brilliance from Maizen to trouble the scorers again. Off a scrum play, he evaded one tackler, put on the jets and raced 90m to score.
Scotland would score a late consolation via Lachlan Walmsley on the back of good lead-up play from Euan Aitken but it was too little, too late.
The Italians were deserved winners showing aggression in attack and starch in defence to put their finals hopes in their own hands.
Despite the relative inexperience of the Italian side at the top domestic levels, Italian coach Leo Epifania says his side has continued to gel at the international level for a number of years.
“I think we’ve done a lot of gelling and we’ve been at this for a few years,” Epifania said.
“I think the boys showed that they had bonded quite well and we’re never going to let each other down out there.”
Scotland coach Nathan Graham made no excuses for his side’s performance, praising Italy for being the better side.
“Italy have got a good group and Leo’s prepped them really well,” Graham said.
“They probably taught us a bit of a lesson there.”
Italy 28 (Maizen 3, Polselli, Parata; Goals: Campagnolo 4) def. Scotland 4 (Walmsley).
NRL News Player of the Match
3. Nathan Brown (ITA)
2. Jack Campagnolo (ITA)
1. Dean Parata (ITA)