By John Davidson, (RLP RLWC Correspondent) Date: 4/11/13
Italy and Scotland have played out the first draw of the Rugby League World Cup after a gripping 30-30 encounter in Workington.
A draw was a fitting result considering both teams threw everything at each other in a see-sawing match that had just about it all, except a successful field goal.
Scotland raced to an early 14-0 after 30 minutes but Italy demonstrated great spirit to come back into the game. The two teams went try for try in the second half and then the Azzurri pushed in front by four points with 20 minutes left on the clock. But the Bravehearts weren’t down yet and replied with a try in the 69th minute. Danny Brough couldn’t convert from the sideline and with the scores tired at 30-all it set up a frantic finish.
Brough was the first one to try for a field goal, but it was charged down. Italy’s Josh Mantellato then had an attempt in the final seconds but it sailed wide. Two crucial refereeing mistakes in the final five minutes ensured neither team got another chance, meaning both teams ended the match all-square.
Man of the match Ray Nasso was again at the heart of a lot of Italy’s good work, with the burly hooker picking up two opportunistic tries.
Scotland had a two-try hero of its own in Ben Hellewell. He got his first after a terrific Scottish backline move in the 49th minute, and picked up his second crucially with 11 minutes left after the Bravehearts found some space moving the ball to the right wing.
This was a tight and tense affair with neither team giving or conceding the arm wrestle. Matty Russell showed his class again but stepping several defenders to score Scotland’s opening try.
It was also a game where luck played a huge part – both teams scoring tries off lucky deflected kicks. Kane Linnett picked up a four-pointer after a Brough kick was deflected into his path. The same happened for Italy on 31 minutes when the ball fell to Cameron Ciraldo after a fortunate ricochet. Another lucky deflection came on 59 minutes with Anthony Minichello regathering a kick to cross for a try and put Italy ahead.
Scotland and Italy have played out of one of the best games of this World Cup and both nations have displayed enough to show both deserve to go through to the quarterfinals. Unfortunately only one of the two teams will, with the Azzurri now tackling Tonga and the Bravehearts playing the USA in their final pool matches to decide who will top Group C.