The glorious November International Test series is underway and fans have been treated to a weekend of enthralling rugby across Europe.
On a day that saw Ireland utterly embarrass a inept South Africa, Wales failing, once again, to best Australia, New Zealand defeat France and England delivering a workmanlike victory over a burly Argentina, Italy, the poor neighbours or European rugby, were also in action against Fiji.
As head coach Conor O’Shea looks to rebuild the Azzurri from the ground up, a clash with Fiji on Saturday was to provide a decent litmus test for the Irishman. On the score sheet alone, he should be pleased.
Overturning their most recent result against Fiji, a 22 – 19 defeat back in June, Italy snapped a nine game losing streak at the Stadio Angelo Massimino.
Their 19 – 10 victory was their first since their shock defeat of South Africa last November will give O’Shea’s men a timely injection of confidence ahead of the clash with Argentina on Saturday.
The victory over Fiji provided more than just a positive result for for the home side and a real feel-good moment when Ian McKinley took to the field for his international debut.
The match also featured something so typical of rugby union – a moment that was savage and stuffed with sportsmanship at the same time.
Midway through the opening half, as Italy spread the ball out wide in a bid to unlock the Fiji defence, full-back Jayden Hayward was tackled by Josua Tuisova and sent careening into the advertising boards on the sideline.
Reduced to a heap in the battered hoarding, Tuisova, who plies his trade in the Top 14 with Toulon, was immediately over to his opponent to drag him from the ground.
Take a look.
As is the utter brilliance and beauty of the sport, Hayward accepted the help with a broad smile on his face.
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