Sun, 15 Nov 2009 4:49p.m.
By Jeff McTainsh
The All Blacks have struggled past Italy, 20-6 in Milan.
It was a flat, and at times stumbling, performance from the side, as the Italians put New Zealand under huge pressure up front.
Eighty thousand were in full voice for the Italian anthem but remained silent for the haka.
The crowd found their voice again when ex-Australian league player Craig Dower put three points on the board for Italy. Luke Macalister quickly replied, putting the All Blacks out to a six-three lead.
But it was hard going for the All Blacks against the rock-like Italian pack.New Zealand rarely got inside Italy’s 22, but when they did it paid off...once.
Italy dominated territory and possession, but couldn't score a try as the All Blacks went to the break up 14-3.
Shortly after half time, Gonzalo Garcia was sin binned for a dangerous tackle on Liam Messam.
But with a man down, the Azzuri somehow grew in confidence, as their solid scrum almost produced a try. Running rugby wasn't on the menu at San Siro, as Gower and Macalister traded two further penalties. The All Blacks were lucky not to concede a penalty try in the final minutes after Namia Tialata was shown a yellow card for infringing.
Aussie referee Stuart Dickinson's rulings baffling both teams as the scrum were reset over and over again.
The All Blacks walking away from the mess with a scrappy 20 - 6 win.
England is next up on the All Black’s agenda, the Brits narrowly getting past Argentina in their match.