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Italy look to positives after NZ thrashing

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 12/11/2016 Angelo Risso

Italy may have lost by a whopping 58 points to the All Blacks on Saturday but coach Conor O'Shea sees the glass as half-full.

Gli Azzurri were thrashed 68-10 by the world champions in Rome, conceding 10 tries and rarely looking capable of containing the All Blacks' attack.

They also made 100 more tackles and almost 200 fewer passes than their southern hemisphere foes, who will now head to Dublin for their Ireland rematch in high spirits.

O'Shea, who took over the job in June, tipped his hat to the All Blacks and admitted they were the far better side on the day.

However he defended his green matchday squad, only nine of whom had more than 20 Test caps, from accusations they weren't up to the task.

"It's easy to point out the mistakes made but I look at the courage of the players, and if that's our starting point, we'll go far," O'Shea said.

"It's the best possible game we could've played to start this off because that's the highest bar."

The Italians, vowing this week to attack the All Blacks' set-piece and play running rugby, instead deployed a kick-heavy game plan at Stadio Olimpico, booting the ball 38 times.

However O'Shea admitted the tactic didn't work wonders as New Zealand adapted and produced their own intelligent cross-field kicking through playmaker Aaron Cruden.

They were also able to use Italy's broken defensive line to dash down the field for counterattacks through Damian McKenzie, Israel Dagg and Waisake Naholo.

"They play what's in front of them and saw the shape they were faced with, and that's the way, they found a way around it to put us under pressure," O'Shea said.

"I know the score isn't competitive but you saw a team that kept on being able to energise themselves and stay in the game, and to the last few minutes executed well."

Throughout the 80 minutes, only substitute Tommaso Boni's breakaway try gave the Italians something to cheer after intercepting Steven Luatua and evading Lima Sopoaga to score.

But O'Shea felt fullback Edoardo Padovani, blindside Maxime Mbanda and substitute hooker Ornel Gega had also produced the goods on the big stage.

Veteran skipper Sergio Parisse, playing in his record 120th Test for Gli Azzurri, agreed and said the side was fully behind their new coach's methods.

"From the inside, knowing this group, I can say the way we're training and working is the right one," the 33-year-old No.8 said.

"It was a starting point today and we are conscious that we can't change overnight."

Gli Azzurri will now finish the calendar year with home Tests against South Africa and Tonga.

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