Italy withstand Russian fightback
June 12, 2011
Italy centre Matteo Pratichetti touches down during Sunday's clash with Russia in Gloucester
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Italy 'A' claimed the runners-up berth in Pool B of the Churchill Cup with a hard-fought 24-19 victory over Russia at Kingsholm on Sunday evening.
The Azzurri, beaten in their tournament opener by Canada last weekend, made a blistering start in Gloucester, stunning their opponents after just five minutes of play through centre Matteo Pratichetti. Scrum-half Tito Tebaldi added the extras and the landed a penalty as Italy reached the end of the first quarter 10 unanswered points to the good.
Yuri Kushnarev responded with a penalty for Russia but Italy strengthened their grip on the game when Giulio Toniolatti dived over less than 60 seconds later. Fly-half Kushnarev then hit another penalty only to see Tebaldi reply in kind as Italy reached the interval 18-6 ahead.
Kushnarev exchanged penalties once more at the start of the second half before Russia dragged themselves right back into contention with a try from winger Rushan Yagudin. Kushnarev was on hand to convert once more before Tebaldi then saw yellow on 56 minutes to blow the game wide open. Kushnarev nailed the resulting penalty to draw his side to within two points but Russia did not make the most of their temporary numerical advantage, coughing up a penalty which fly-half Riccardo Bocchino kicked for the 14-men Italians.
Russia tried to press in the final quarter but to no avail and Italy held on to claim their maiden Churchill Cup win.
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