A hat-trick from barnstorming debutant centre, XIII Del Ducato’s Raffaele Dalla Ragione was the highlight as new-look Italy won their opening game in European Championship B.
Paul Broadbent’s side, which included six debutants and was almost exclusively made up of players from the domestic competition proved too strong at the Stadio comunale di Teglio Veneto in Gemona, scoring ten tries in all and leading 26-0 at half time.
“It’s been an eventful weekend for Italian rugby league,” said Broadbent. “We have come to a new area and the town has hosted us brilliantly.”
“We have had victories at U18 and senior level and we are developing a proper platform here now. There are some quality players coming through the system at both levels and we can expand from that. We had lots of new faces who have put their hands up.”
“Raffa got stronger as the game went on, all the debutants went well and I am really pleased with the performance.”
Ukraine showed great resilience on their own line in the opening exchanges but fell behind in the 12th minute when Giuseppe Pagani opened the scoring.
Dalla Ragione posted his first soon after; Medhi Idammou, Chris De Meyer and hooker Joel Miranda all crossing before the break, Remi Fontana with three conversions.
Dalla Ragione was in again a minute into the second half but Ukraine then enjoyed their best spell, on the back of great work by prop Volodymyr Karpenko; Kharkov Storm’s Igor Karpenko with their first try in the 50th minute, Volodymyr Mazepa converting.
Miranda claimed his second 15 minutes from time, Mykhailo Troyan replying but the hosts finished strongly with three touchdowns in six minutes from Luca Ameglio, Della Ragione and Idammou to bring up the half-century, Fontana taking his goals tally to seven.
Ukraine coach, Gennadiy Veprik commented, “We expected this kind of game as we were without six first choice players and missing four from Donetsk because of the problems back home, which have severely disrupted our domestic competition.”
“I don’t think, with everyone back on board and homes games next year that we are the weakest, anyone of the nations can beat the other in this competition.”
In the U18 curtain-raiser, Italy defeated Serbia 34-16, Roberto Giuffreda with two of their seven tries. Stefan Vukanovic claimed a try and two goals for the visitors who trailed 20-10 at the break.
ITALY 54 (26)
Fabrizio Ciaurro, Thomas Piscitelli, Medhi Idammou, Raffaele Dalla Ragione, Riccardo Candurra, Pierangelo Ceretti, Remi Fontana, Diego Del Nevo, Joel Miranda, Chris Vitalini, Gioele Celerino, Giuseppe Pagani, Jonathan Marcinczak; Subs: Chris De Meyer, Simone Boscolo, Luca Ameglio, Luca Milani
UKRAINE 12 (0)
Mykhailo Troyan, Bogdan Vepryk, Andrii Bashevskiy, Mykhaylo Chernyak, Danilo Pozhidaev, Volodymyr Mazepa, Pavlo Kardakov, Oleksandr Kozak, Sergei Shevtsov, Igor Karpenko, Vitalii Felko, Artur Martyrosyan, Igor Shevtsov; Subs: Kostiantyn Blitov, Yevhenii Dudka, Igor Iurkin
Referee: Paul Stockman