Rugby World Cup 2003
Italy impress in 36-12 victory
October 15, 2003
Denis Dallan dives in to score one of his two tries
© Getty Images
A buoyant Italian team put away their first World Cup victory beating Tonga 36-12 at the Bruce Stadium in Canberra. The match was played at fever pitch with tensions running high on both sides.
In this crucial make or break game referee Steve Walsh was forced to pull out the yellow on three occasions sin binning two Tongan players and one Italian.
Tonga started in their customary spirited fashion but it took only two minutes before N° 7 Fenukitau was sidelined for a high late tackle.
Italy made the most of the one man advantage forcing Tonga to give away a penalty in front of the posts and new cap fly half Rima Wakarua was quick to put three points on the board for the Azzurri.
Italy looked dangerous on the break with Stoica and Mazzucato moving the ball quickly and De Rossi penetrating with force. Just ten minutes later Tonga conceded another penalty and Rima Wakarua slotted the ball taking Italy to a six point lead.
Tonga surged forward but Tu'ipoluto hooked two penalty kicks and binned the chance of some valuable points for his team. The Tonga attack did not lack surprise and the Italians could only stand and watch while a long drop goal by No 15 Hola fell just short.
Both teams showed fire and determination but scrappy handling and too many turn overs made neither team look really threatening.
Lack of discipline by Tonga gave the Azzurri the chance to consolidate their lead and the safe boot of Wakarua took Italy's tally to 9-0 in the 30th. Tonga came back in the game just minutes later with a try by No 12 Payne in the corner following a scrum near the Italian line which Italy's number 8 Sergio Parisse attacked from, just to be caught with the ball. Tonga opened it wide and Tu'ipoluto made amends by converting a tricky kick, taking Tonga to within two points. Just before half time Tonga failed to capitalise on their attacking position. They had the numbers to be dangerous but always gave Italy time to regroup.
Early in the second half Italy's Manual Dallan celebrated his 27th birthday by scoring Italy's first try of the game just after the referee had admonished captains of both teams for conceding too many penalties. Italy's forwards drove for the line and man of the match Rima Wakarua put Dallan through under the posts. The number 10 converted taking Italy to a 16-7 lead.
In a birthday festival, Tonga replied with a try by n°11 Tu'ifua, 28 today. Tu'ifua took advantage of a mix up between Italian full back Gonzalo Canale and team mate Nicola Mazzucato, crashing into each other while covering a grabber kick. The Azzuri however, had the edge, Wakarua slotted another three points on offer and in a hot and furious finale Dennis Dallan, brother of birthday boy Manuel found a hole and powered through under the posts with a shining Wakarua adding the conversion and stretching the Azzurri's lead to 29-12.
With the Italians on a roll and the match in the bag Dennis Dallan added the icing on the cake and scooped the ball up to score in the corner. Wakarua completed the day of his debut with an outstanding 8 from 9.