FEDERATION of Italia Rugby League Australia coach Leo Epifania only had a week to put together a team for Saturday’s clash with the Western Rams, but you could have been fooled for thinking otherwise.
The players Epifania assembled at Carrington Park quickly adapted to new combinations and produced some slick football on their way to a 34-18 victory.
While the big Western forward pack hit hard in defence, FIRLA’s speed around the ruck and support play gave them the edge.
“They got into us, but we expected that, you don’t come out to the country and expect anything less,” Epifania said.
“I thought both sides had a real red hot dig, but I was very happy with things from our side. We have got one side that is going overseas for the [World Cup] qualifiers over in Europe and these boys here are our level one players.
“We had to fill in some numbers here, we had to pull a side together in a week and the boys did really well I thought in making that happen.
“Some of these players here are younger fellas and later down the track, they will come into that top team.”
Though having to draw on players unfamiliar to himself and each other, the quality Epifania had in key positions was telling
Fullback Christian Bate (Belrose), hooker Daniel Petralia (Canterbury), plus halves Josh Bergamin (Canterbury) and Blake Cavelarro (Western Suburbs) were standouts.
Cavelarro amassed a personal tally of 22 points from three tries and five goals.