Mallett cheers Italian moxie

Italy coach Nick Mallett was not happy with Saturday’s loss to Ireland but commended his side for their tenacity on defence.

The 16-11 scoreline suggests a close match, but it has to be said the Irish were hopelessly out of sorts. Eddie O’Sullivan’s side missed several try-scoring chances in the first half, a fact Mallett was quick to acknowledge after the match.

“I didn’t enjoy the first half. I thought we were comprehensively outplayed and were lucky only to have one try scored against us,” said Mallett.

The former Springbok coach did see potential in the Azzuri side and took heart from the way they improved in the second period.

“We needed to tighten up in the second half and we were better defensively. I didn’t think we deserved to win but I’m proud of the way we defended and we put together some good passages of play.”

Ireland will need to sharpen up significantly if they are going to compete for the crown, and O’Sullivan admitted all that can be taken from this fixture was the win.

“Maybe it wasn’t the performance I wanted, but sometimes you have to win ugly and today we dug out an ugly victory,” he said.