BUNDABERG Cup coach Jamie Forbes said his side developing a siege mentality before their one-off trial against Italy at EW Moore Oval on Saturday, was crucial in their 34-16 victory.
“We really didn’t know what to expect, when you’re playing against a side that’s qualified for the World Cup, and they’re playing for their country, you know you’re going to be in for a hard game,” Forbes said.
“So that was a pretty big talking point between the boys, we didn’t want to go down there and get ambushed, and that helped us out massively, mentally.
“We only had two training sessions, so the way the boys came together was unbelievable.
“We were probably lucky most of the side was made of up of guys who played in the finals so they were still fit, but they came together like they’d been playing together for years.
“We knew the lack of preparation time was going to be a massive issue, so we picked guys in the one, six, seven and nine jerseys and on the left and right edges that were comfortable with each other.”
Forbes said the young Italian side showed signs that they can be a surprising side next year when the World Cup touches down in England and Wales.
“They didn’t roll out their big guns, but they have a lot of really good kids in that side and some big boys that had a dig at us,” he said.
“They’re a little bit inexperienced at this stage, but I’m sure once they get the chance to play with some of the bigger name guys, they’ll be very hard to beat.”
A double from Windsor’s Hutch Maiava and a man of the match performance from Wentworthville’s Pat Mataele helped the Bundaberg Cup side to its win.
In an impressive defensive performance for Forbes’ men, the Italian’s only scored one second half try in the 77th minute to front-rower Sam Gardel.
Former Roosters hooker, Simon Bonetti, converted Gardel’s try in front of his home fans in what was his first game of competitive rugby league in eight years.
The Gardel try came after a second half blitzkrieg from the Bundaberg Cup side where they scored three tries in 15 minutes.
The three tries took the score out to 34-10 and the game was in danger of blowing out before the Italians scored their final try.
After a torrid first few minutes, Cabramatta’s Hala Katoa snatched an interception from an Azzurri pass and scored untouched under the posts.
Just 10 minutes later, NSW Cup representative front-rower Paul Vaughan sliced through a hole and drew the scores level, sending the local crowd into raptures.
Italy then took the lead when Nathan Scarano crossed over out wide after a good interchange from their backline.
However, Scarano wasn’t able to convert from the sidelines in the windy conditions and at the 20-minute mark the Italians had hit the lead 10-6.
From then on it was all the Bundaberg boys as Brendan Waters scored in the 25th minute and then shortly after Maiava crashed over giving the visitors an 18-10 lead at half-time.
Bundaberg Cup 34