Italy edge past scrappy Fiji
November 16, 2013
Fiji's fullback Metuisela Talebula scores chased by Tommaso Iannone © Getty Images
Italy ensured Sergio Parisse and Martin Castrogiovanni were winners on their 100th appearances for the Azzurri, but only after surviving a late surge against a Fiji side that were handed five yellow cards in Cremona.
The visitors were at one stage reduced to 11 men, during which time Parisse went over for his side's first, and another Luke McLean try moments later gave the hosts a 20-5 half-time lead. Fiji's ill discipline was ultimately the difference, although they almost threatened to snatch the most unlikely of wins when Napolini Vonowale-Nalaga and Timoci Nagusa's second in the final 10 minutes set up a tense finale.
Italy held on though and, despite being outscored five tries to four, were able to celebrate the milestone of their two veterans. Fiji had led 5-3 through a Metuisela Talebula try after eight minutes, before their procession of yellow cards came. Four players were sent to the sin bin in a mad nine-minute period, prompted by the departure of skipper Akapusi Qera for a dangerous tackle.
Asaeli Tikoirotuma, perhaps harshly, Sakiusa Matadigo and Nemano Nadolo all followed into the sin bin, with a Luciano Orquera penalty giving Italy the lead back for good before Parisse and McLean went over. Orquera, whose kicking proved vital as he finished with 15 points, made it 23-5 shortly after the break and while Nagusa got his first try on 49 minutes it went unconverted by Seremaia Bai.
Italy steadied again as a penalty try and Fiji-born Manoa Vosawai's score, either side of Nadolo bursting through, put the Azzurri 18 points clear with 10 minutes left. They were forced to sweat, however, with Parisse forced to watch his 100th appearance out from the sin-bin as Vonowale-Nalaga and Nagusa touched down late on.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
"The days of when one team dominated the championship are a thing of the past, I think it will be even closer next year." The Phil Vickery column
The 2014 Six Nations has been and gone and the tournament has been painted green. Monday Maul looks back at the weekend's talking points
"The fairytale continued right to the end for the magic man." Tom Hamilton reports on the game that saw Brian O'Driscoll bid adieu with the Six Nations title
"It is a sign of how far this England team have come that they looked disappointed at the full-time whistle having just put 52 points on Italy." Tom Hamilton writes