Debutant McKinley closes out the victory for Italians
ITALY got their November Test series off to a winning start with a 19-10 victory over Fiji in Sicily with debutant Ian McKinley kicking the final penalty to ensure victory.
The former Ireland U20 player – wearing specially manufactured goggles after he was blinded in his left eye by a teammate’s stud eight years ago – came on as a substitute on 62 minutes to close the match with a penalty kick.
Carlo Canna scored 11 points as Italy ended a series of nine consecutive defeats going back to their stunning win over South Africa in November 2016.
“It’s difficult to win matches of this level and it’s hard to take advantage of the chances when you’re not used to winning,” said O’Shea.
Italy dominated early with Benetton prop Simone Ferrari touching down after 28 minutes with Zebre fly-half Canna converting.
Leone Nakarawa pulled Fiji level 10-10 at the break with a try following a tackling error by Italy captain Sergio Parisse. Ben Volavola converted and added a penalty to completing the visitors’ scoreline.
Then 27-year-old former Leinster fly-half McKinley, now playing for Treviso, stepped up to seal victory for his adopted country.
Parisse said: “We got ourselves into trouble in the first half by giving them the 10-10, my fault too for a bad tackle.
“I’m proud of the guys. It’s a good start even if it wasn’t perfect. This victory gives us serenity to work towards the next two matches.”