LEONI VENETI RECLAIM ITALIAN ORIGIN CROWN
Leoni Veneti reclaimed the Italian State of Origin crown with a 40-30 win over Longobardi in Piacenza.
In a tough, committed contest, the added incentive for the players was a potential place in the Italian side to take on Germany this weekend in the European Shield.
Leoni led 18-6 at the break thanks to tries from Cerza, Verardi and Ciaurro, all golaed by Cerza; Longobardi skipper Franchi with their touchdown, converted by Peens.
Longobardi dominated the opening exchanges of the second period, racing to a 24-18 lead by the 52nd minute thanks to tries from Ilinca, Ceretti and Celerino, Peens with the extras to all of them.
Just before the hour Zorzada crossed and Cerza converted to level, as Leoni began to take control.
Tries by D'Elia after 67 minutes, Boscolo four minutes later and then Genesini, Cerza goaling two of them, established a winning lead.
A Barani try and Robuschi goal narrowed the margin but were consolation for Longobardi, who won the corresponding fixture 54-0 last year; Leoni taking a 2-1 lead in the annual series as a result.
"I saw my players perform with a lot of determination and desire to contest every ball, that approach was the key to victory,” said Leoni coach Tiziano Franchini. “All the players have shown that the Italian rugby league is growing and that the work we are doing is paying off. "
Longobardi opposite number Kelly Rolleston agreed. “It was a good game, tough and fast. It’s great for Italian rugby league to see that the North East and Central division's are becoming more competitive. I am extremely happy to see new faces pushing hard for inclusion in the next European Shield match.”
National coach Paul Broadbent watched on with interest. “I saw many new faces who want to shine at international level,” he commented. "it wont be easy to make the choices on who will be selected, which is just the kind of headache we want.”