Autumn internationals: Italy hold on to defeat ill-disciplined Fiji
Last Updated: 16/11/13 6:39pm
Martin Castrogiovanni (L) and Sergio Parisse: Both earned 100th caps for Italy
Sergio Parisse and Martin Castrogiovanni celebrated their 100th caps with a victory as Italy edged out Fiji 37-31 in Cremona.
Fiji were given five yellow cards during the clash, at one stage being reduced to 11 men, during which time Parisse went over for his side's first, and another Luke McLean try moments later gave the hosts a 20-5 half-time lead.
The visitors' ill-discipline was ultimately the difference, although they almost threatened to snatch the most unlikely of wins when Napolini Vonowale-Nalaga and Timoci Nagusa scored tries in the last 10 minutes set up a tense finale.
Italy held on though and, despite being outscored five tries to four, were able to celebrate the milestone of their two veterans.
Fiji had led 5-3 through a Metuisela Talebula try after eight minutes, before their procession of yellow cards came.
Four players were sent to the sin bin in a mad nine-minute period, prompted by the departure of skipper Akapusi Qera for a dangerous tackle.
Asaeli Tikoirotuma, Sakiusa Matadigo and Nemano Nadolo all followed into the sin bin, with a Luciano Orquera penalty giving Italy the lead back for good before Parisse and McLean went over.
Orquera, whose kicking proved vital as he finished with 15 points, made it 23-5 shortly after the break and while Nagusa got his first try on 49 minutes, it went unconverted by Seremaia Bai.
Italy steadied the ship again as a penalty try and Fiji-born Manoa Vosawai's score, either side of Nadolo bursting through, put the Azzurri 18 points clear with 10 minutes left.
They were made to sweat, however, with Parisse forced to watch his 100th appearance out from the sin-bin as Vonowale-Nalaga and Nagusa touched down late on.