Italy end 2-year losing streak after edging Uruguay

November 20, 2021 GMT

PARMA, Italy (AP) — Italy has won a rugby test.

After 16 consecutive defeats, more than two years, and through three coaches, the Italians were finally winners again on Saturday.

That was the good news.

The bad news was they made heavy going of beating tier two side Uruguay 17-10 in Parma and almost blew it.

The Teros, who qualified last month in Italy’s pool for the 2023 Rugby World Cup, scored their only try after an hour to trail 17-10 and suddenly made a content atmosphere tense at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi.

With five minutes to go, Uruguay’s Tomas Inciárte, who started at scrumhalf and moved to center, made a half break meters from the line but was ankle-tackled by Italy flyhalf Paolo Garbisi. Inciárte tried a pop-up pass to replacement hooker Facundo Gattas, but he was tackled early and Italy prop Danilo Fischetti was sin-binned.

Uruguay kicked to the corner and worked the phases, creeping toward the tryline until ball-carrier Diego Arbelo fell on the wrong side and Italy’s Hame Faiva trapped him for a relieving penalty.

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Italy hogged the ball for the last two minutes and fulltime was greeted with relief. But some Italy fans booed.

“Credit to Uruguay, they played an unreal match,” Italy captain Michele Lamaro said. “The important thing was to win and we delivered.”

Wing Pierre Bruno, on debut at the home of his Zebre club, gave Italy a great start when took a big miss-out pass from Garbisi to go across in the right corner.

They then had 10 minutes with a man advantage after Inciárte was sin-binned for repeated fouls by Uruguay, but Italy wasted it, although referee Craig Evans mistakenly stopped play for a phantom knock on.

Italy fullback Edoardo Padovani’s tackle on opposite Rodrigo Silva knocked the ball loose and off his head. Bruno was away for a second try but Evans disagreed, and Italy came away with only a Garbisi penalty while facing 14 men.

The home side started the new half well, again. Hooker Luca Bigi was penalized on the tryline for double movement on his knees, but after he and the entire front row were replaced, the New Zealand-born Faiva burst from the back of a rolling maul for a try on debut.

At 17-3 with fresher legs, Italy looked good to push on.

But Uruguay was undeterred. Their backline defense was containing Italy, the forwards were making yards up the middle, and Italy was committing penalties under pressure, 17 (to Uruguay’s 16).

Hooker German Kessler knocked on reaching out for the tryline but they had the penalty advantage, and front row mate Mateo Sanguinetti scored the converted try.

Uruguay was within seven points but it couldn’t quite pull off a first win over Italy. However, it could be encouraged for their next meeting in 2023 on the biggest stage.

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