Diss U17's good Italian job

A PARTY of 40 members of Diss Rugby Club travelled to Italy to play U17 matches against the top teams in the Venice area. The team played three games during the week, leaving the weekend for cultural activities.

A PARTY of 40 members of Diss Rugby Club travelled to Italy to play U17 matches against the top teams in the Venice area.

The team played three games during the week, leaving the weekend for cultural activities.

Diss travelled to the university ground in Padova to play CUS Padova U19 and won 12-5.

Padova have adopted the nickname Monsters and there was little doubt why.

Diss had travelled far for this and started aggressively, the skills on show counteracting the disadvantages in size and age.

Diss quickly worked out that, by sucking in the Padova defence with vigorous rucking for three or four phases, then spinning the ball wide for the backs, it was the way to unlock the Italian defence.

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Mid-half James Nicholls and Henry Passmore released Alex Kellsall into space, he rounded the full-back to score, the difficult conversion was missed.

The Diss defence held out until half-time with the back row of Greg Gaughan, Josh Self and Ben Fidler treating the Padovans to a lesson in counter rucking.

The second half saw changes with Ben Rodrick coming at full-back for Adam Binks, Mark Dungar and Shane Burrows for Josh Bailey and Josh Self in the forwards.

Padova continued to attack using their favoured line-out catch and drive, a tactic that proved successful to level the scores at five all.

Diss countered with a well-worked opening for Kellsall to glide under the posts, Ben Askew converting.

Scrum-half Matt Smith controlled the play, beautifully releasing the charging runs of props Peter Bray and Dom Croft and lock Elliott Page and the weakening defence struggled to cope with the elusive running of Lewis Davy, Paul Coomber and Harry Foster-Wright.

Diss had kick-started their tour with a fine win.

The next game was against Casino di Venezia and Diss won 40-5.

The visitors arrived in time to watch the Casino di Venezia first team conclude the day's training at the compact but delightful ground in mainland Venice.

Ramiro Pez, the Italian international and former Rotherham and Leicester player, gave an impromptu kicking masterclass before Diss made their way to the away team dressing room.

Casino di Venezia fielded their U17 academy side that included two Italian U17 internationals.

Diss, however, were on a high and started aggressively, matching the Italians in what was clearly the standard first ten of all Italian matches.

Page and Fidler both took punches in front of the referee which resulted in a yellow for the Venetians and a one-man advantage for Diss.

Smith released his backs as often as possible and within minutes a new move practiced on the beach called 'pudding ball' released Kellsall to skip past the full-back, and Askew converted.

Moments later, Lee Hales stole line-out ball, Nicholls exploited a gap created as the Venetian defence drifted to cover Kellsall and the inside ball to Butch Rodwell saw him charge in under the posts, again hooker Askew converted.

Venezia, back to full strength, scored from a five-metre line-out to make the half-time score 5-14.

Diss dominated the second half with three tries for Kellsall and one for Davy.

Venezia continued to use their forwards but eventually gave up on the drive when Dom Croft made a monumental tackle on the Italian number eight.

It was the defining moment that highlighted the battle the Diss forwards had won to provide such a surfeit of quality ball to their backs.

Next, expecting a bruising encounter against a mixed age side from Badia Rugby Club, the Diss forwards stood their ground and quickly moved the ball to the backs, first third tries from Page and Kellsall saw Diss move quickly into a lead with Davy slotting both conversions.

Page picked up another try, converted by Askew, as the now dominant Diss forwards controlled the tempo of the game.

Badia stole one back through the Italian formula - a line-out drive from five metres.

The final try was a Diss classic, the forwards ran the tight channels with Fidler, Croft and Bray rampaging forward before a loop from Nicholls and Passmore put Kellsall in space for one final display of pace, again Askew converted for a 28-7 win.