Jacques Brunel's Italy ran in four tries against a spirited Romanian side as they finished a mediocre World Cup with a win
Italy romped to a four-try bonus point victory at a boisterous Sandy Park on the final day of the Pool stages. Tries in the first-half by Sarto, Gori and Allan helped them to a 22-3 lead at the break, and when Zanni scored a fourth on 45 minutes, a rout was threatened. Credit to the Oaks who dug in and scored three tries in the last quarter of an hour to give the score a respectable sheen at 32-22. Tommaso Allan scored 17 points in a man of the match performance.
Okay, it’s small with a capacity of just over 11,000, but what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in passion and noise. With the fans just yards from the players, it creates a cauldron that can only lift players. Sandy Park has shone a light in the South-West for the World Cup and can rightly be proud of its part in the tournament. With a new hybrid pitch and improvements off the pitch totalling a £9m spruce-up, the was money well-spent.
Tommaso Allan, the 22-year-old fly-half honed his skills in Scotland, playing at age-grade level, with a Scottish father but he chose to follow the country of his mother’s birth. Against Romania, he proved a running threat, scoring the individual score of the game in the first half. After spotting a gap jinking through. In the second-half, he continued to ask questions of the Romanian defence with his footwork and offloading game. He also kicked well off the deck, only missing two kicks all competition. It’s early days, but could he be the answer to the 10-year-old Italian fly-half conundrum, left by Diego Dominguez?
At the first scrum, the Romanian pack drove the previously vaunted Italian pack ten metres, as they carried on from where they left off against Canada. While they wobbled with Van Heerden in the bin, much credit should go to Top 14 based props Paulica Ion and Mihaita Lazar also gave the French scrum serious problems. Lynn Howells must have been purring at such a performance. Can rightly be considered as one of the strongest packs in the tournament.
Romania’s lack of wide ambition
In the first half, Romania, who had the edge up front, went through over 20 phases with the Italian’s defending their line. They chose to keep it tight, when they were making no headway, even though Paula Kinikinilau had been making inroads. In the end they were penalised without scoring a point and Allan cleared the decks. It was reminiscent of Wales the previous day against Australia. Tries later in the second-half only made their lack of ambition more acute.
Five day turnarounds
Romania started off like a train, surely fired up to gain an unlikely victory to earn a third-placed finish, however their neverending game against Canada just five days ago seemed to catch up with them as they wilted in the middle third of the match. Even though they showed heart and spirit by scoring three tries in the last quarter of an hour, it showed the balance between maintaining the intensity of the competition and proper rest for the players is not easy to find.
Italy ran 314 metres to Romania’s 288
Italy beat 22 defenders to 9 by Romania, making 7 linebreaks, to Romania’s 4
Italy made 139 tackles, to Romania’s 33
Paula Kinikinilau ran furthest in the game with 81 metres, next best was Tommaso Allan with 68, followed by Leonardo Sarto with 52
Francesco Minto was the game’s top tackler with 16, followed by Simone Favaro with 15 and Alessandro Zanni with 14
Italy: L McLean; L Sarto, M Capagnaro (E Bacchin 33), T Benvenuti, G Venditti, T Allan, E Gori; M Aguero, A Manici, L Cittadini, Q Geldenhuys (c), J Furno, F Minto, S Favaro, A Zanni.
Replacements: D Giazzon, A De Marchi, D Chistolini, V Bernabo, S Vunisa, G Palazzani, C Canna
Tries: Leonardo Sarto, Edoardo Gori, Tommaso Allan, Alessandro Zanni
Cons: Allan (3)
Penalties: Allan (2)
Romania: C Fercu; M Lemnaru, P Kinikinilau, F Vlaicu, I Botezatu, M Wiringi (C Gal 40), V Calafeteanu; M Lazar, O Turashvili, P Ion, V Poparlan, J van Heerden, V Ursache (c), V Lucaci, D Carpo.
Replacements: A Radoi, A Ursache, H Pungea, M Antonescu, S Burcea, T Bratu, A Apostol
Tries: Apostol (2), Poparlan
Cons: Vlaicu (2)
Pen: Vlaicu (1)
Man of the match: Tommaso Allan
Referee Romain Poite (Fra)