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Italy Show What Guts Can Do
Posted Mar 17, 2011 by Shaun Edwards
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The emotion and sheer joy displayed by the Italians after defeating France in the Stadio Flaminio was comparable only a team who have just won the World Cup final. For all of those who say the Italians have no place in this tournament, you cannot argue with their passion for the game, and you cannot argue that this was the biggest win they’ve ever achieved in their twelve years in the Six Nations.
Considering the 59-13 hammering the Italians took at the hands of England last month, the fact that they had fallen behind to an 18-6 deficit on 50 minutes would have been enough for many bookies to simply pay out on a defeat. The Italians had contributed very little to the match, and the score was not unfair.
Whatever the Italians are, though, they’re not quitters. You could visually see the effort of the Italian forwards as they ploughed forward again and again with a determination that many more technically advanced teams would do well to learn from. At around the half-way mark in the second half, the French seemed to lose their concentration, and the home side took full advantage, scoring a try that was the undoubted turning point in the game.
From that point on, the Italians were virtually immaculate. Martin Castrogiovanni was titanic and Sergio Parisse seemed to be at every point on the pitch all at once. The whole side just would not quit, and the French were just unable to deal with such steadfast determination, looking frankly dazzled by the time Andrea Masi rounded their backline and minimalising the deficit to just five points. It says a lot about the Italian determination that their winning points came from Mirco Bergamasco – far from a natural kicker of the ball – kicking four from four. His success rate against Wales had been only 33%. That shows as much mental strength as charging into a scrum.
Marc Lievremont’s astounding attack on his own players post-match said a lot about the French performance, one that had seemed a walk in the park until an absolutely monstrous last twenty minutes from the home side. France will be wondering how they lost this match: Italy will be deservedly celebrating.