The opening weekend of this long awaited Rugby League World Cup saw a win for hosts England against Fiji by 54 points and for Australia against Fiji by 34 points, those, in reality were expected results. 2 of the 3 big guns of the game opened the tournament with big wins. Day 2 saw 4 teams that might have been expected to be more evenly matched, starting with Scotland against Italy followed by Jamaica and Ireland.
Things didn’t quite go as planned for Scotland at Kingston Park, they were boosted by the inclusion of Ben Hellewell joining the squad, he started on the bench. These are the sorts of games that are must wins when you share a group with Australia. The teams had one warm up game between them, being Scotland’s loss to England Knights last Saturday.
Italy knocked the ball out off Scottish hands in both of their early sets and Italy lost the ball after a big tackle on their first Six. A debatable tackle which was very close to a tip tackle on Bailey Liu saw the incident put on report, a very different way of dealing with things in the 13 man code. That gave Scotland a penalty close to the Italy line. It looked like Matty Russell had scored a try, but the ball was deemed to have been knocked on in th build up to getting the ball out onto the wing.
That was the only time Scotland got over the line in the first half and that didn’t result in points. Italy scored their first try on 9.5 minutes after Maizen kicked the ball through, it seemed Brierley might get to the ball first, but it was Luca Poiselli who just got the ball down before it went over the dead ball line. The conversion was successful and Italy had a 6 point lead.
That lead was stretched after 23 minutes when Dean Parata used all of his strength to go over the line after a couple of successive sets after being awarded a penalty. The try came after Scotland weathered the storm of successive sets for Scotland. .
Scotland’s game wasn’t help by their captain Dale Ferguson being shown a yellow card just before half-time. He was involved in a tackle that saw his leg on that of Atkinson’s as the went down, it looked like a complete accident, but it was a nasty incident. Scotland defended the resulting set, with Brierley making a key intervention.
They took a lead of 12 points into the dressing room at half-time. They’d defended well in the first half and were good for their lead.
Italy took advantage of the yellow card 4 minutes into the 2nd half scoring their 3rd try. They attacked after a goal line drop out, getting the ball out to winger Jake Maizen, another display of strength as he got the ball down with 2 Scottish defenders on his back. Jack Campagnolo had a kick from the side line and kicked it brilliantly – that was 18 Nil for Italy.
Rugby League is a game of momentum and that was certainly with Italy and Jake Maizen in particular he dan ed down his touch line, doing well to keep his feet in the field of play, that was after a break from Daniel Atkinson. The conversion hit the post but Italy had a 22 point lead.
This was Jake Maizen’s debut and if 2 tries weren’t enough to make it a memorable debut he scored his hat-trick on 73 minutes and the try was definitely one for the scrapbook as he raced 80 metres down the pitch, leaving all in his wake. The conversion took Italy to 28.
Scotland took possession pot yeah ball after a short kick off, a lovely pass from Aitken to Lachlan Walmsley saw him score an excellent try, with 76 minutes on the clock it was only ever going to be a consolation try and the final result was Scotland 4 Italy 28. The Italy captain Nathan Brown was awarded the Man of the Match accolade.