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Scotland and Italy share points in pulsating contest
Scotland and Italy have combined to produce a scintillating 80 minutes of football with the 30 all draw a fitting result for all 7,280 fans in attendance at Derwent Park.
It was a battle between the two first up winners in Group C and they didn't disappoint creating 60 points between them in a rugby league classic.
The Braveheart's started at 100 km/ph against Tonga racing to a 24-4 lead and they set the tone again tonight. Danny Brough opened the scoring with a penalty goal after the video referee intervened to overrule a drop ball.
Scotland showed they weren't restricted to dour rugby league with back-to-back tries in the 22nd and 26th minute. Matthew Russell showed light feet to dance around several Italian players for the opener.
Peter Wallace offered the perfect follow-up with a 40/20 in the next Scotland possession. His kick led to Kane Linnett pouncing on a Danny Brough grubber to push the home side out to a 14-0 lead after half an hour.
Italy weren't going to fade quietly into the night and wrest momentum back from the Scottish side late in the first half. Cameron Ciraldo showed adept hands for a forward to latch on a grubber confirmed by the video referee.
Raymond Nasso though used brute strength instead of finesse to keep the Azzuri within two. He got the ball ten metres out and wouldn't stop until the try-line. The replacement hooker provided the jumpstart whenever the Italian side was lacking.
The mad-cap scoring continued right after the resumption as Scotland went 100 metres to extend their lead once again. Brough launched it high and through hands it got to Danny Addy to cross the stripe.
Once again though - Nasso took it upon himself to get the Italians back into the contest. Three straight plays were forwards launching themselves into the defense. Nasso should be nicknamed the bulldozer for his brace.
Despite being played in muddy conditions - the action was fast paced between all 34 players in the game. It swung like a pendulum being nudged by a psychiatrist. Hallewell finished off a lovely right side play from Danny Brough.
The Italian side finally wrestled control back - not in the play the ball like many NRL contests (both teams were penalised heavily for play-the ball infringements). Chris Centrone was on the end of a passing play that kept pushing left until he touched down in the corner.
It took 60 minutes but Italy had taken the lead in the enthralling contest. Captain Anthony Minichiello showed the handiwork that won him footballer of the year to pounce on a rebound. Mantellato converted in a duel between himself and Brough to who could keep their perfect record longer. The important aspect was though - Italy 30, Scotland 26.
I'm sounding like a broken record but Scotland dragged themselves up from their bootlaces once again. Danny Brough engineered the play as he chipped for himself, regathered and was tackled. On last Scotland pushed it right until Hallewell was in space, tying up the game once again.
Danny Brough who had been 5/5 until that moment had a chance to lift his side in front of the Azzuri once again. He started the kick off right but it was swung away at the final moment leaving the game locked up and onto field-goal mayhem.
Unlike standard NRL games - if the game was drawn at full-time it would remain so. There was one final effort from each side, both tinged with some controversy in how they came about. Referee Henry Perenara had called six again for Italy but reversed his call allowing Brough to get off a field goal attempt that was charged down.
This was Italy's tinge as the charge down was deemed to not be played at thus was an Italian ball inside the Scottish half. Forty seconds to play - Italy tried to prise some space for Josh Mantellato to get off a kick but he was closed down before Ryan Ghietti offered a weak attempt.
Full-time. A draw - like kissing your sister they say in the classics but not tonight. Derwent Park rose as one after the full-time siren to acknowledge the effort of both sides who still share the lead in Group C.
Scotland 30 Italy 30
Venue: Derwent Park
Halftime Score: Scotland 14-12
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Raymond Nasso
2 points - Danny Brough
1 point - Ben Hellewell