CATANIA, Sicily — Italy ended a nine-test losing streak when it beat Fiji 19-10 in the first of its November tests on Saturday.
Italy’s first win since its historic victory over South Africa nearly a year ago finished on a remarkable moment, when replacement back Ian McKinley kicked a last-minute penalty on debut, six years after retiring after losing the sight in his left eye.
McKinley returned to playing rugby in 2014 using specially manufactured goggles and played for Viadana and Zebre before joining Benetton in 2016.
Italy sought revenge after losing in Fiji 22-19 in June, when Ben Volavola kicked a dropped goal two minutes into injury time.
This time, Volavola’s yellow card in the 64th minute undermined Fiji’s comeback hopes while trailing 16-10.
Italy’s Carlo Canna and Volavola opened with penalty kicks, and Italy also scored the first try after half an hour.
From a five-meter scrum, No. 8 and captain Sergio Parisse and scrumhalf Marcello Violi combined to give prop Simone Ferrari his first international try.
Fiji leveled at 10-10 on the stroke of halftime when lock Leone Nakarawa evaded an Italian tackle and used his outpaced the defense to touch down by the left post.
Italy thought it restored its lead immediately after the break when Canna grabbed a loose ball following a Fiji lineout and crossed over but the TMO ruled he had been offside.
Italy nevertheless pulled away with two quick penalties from Canna — the second from a difficult angle on the left — before the flyhalf was replaced by McKinley shortly after the hour mark.
Volavola was then sin-binned and Italy defended well to the end.