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Italy tries to digest All Black avalanche

The morning after the humiliating night before Italian rugby fans were not in any rush to read the sports newspapers after their crushing defeat by New Zealand at the World Cup on Friday.

Losing to the All Blacks was always the likely outcome, but a 96-17 thrashing was not what Italy expected.

La Gazzetta dello Sport had declared "the past is all one-way, but the gap has perhaps never been so narrow". Instead, the losing margin of 79 points was Italy's second-worst result against New Zealand.

At the 1999 World Cup, before Italy joined the Six Nations, they lost 101-3 and that scoreline looked in danger of being overshadowed.

"Black Avalanche" was the headline La Gazzetta dello Sport went for on Saturday morning. "All Blacks Fury, Italy overwhelmed, A miracle is needed against France" it added.

New Zealand were described as being ruthless, furious, surgical, with their play at times poetic. Italy, on the other hand, were depicted as petrified and inexistent.

The game made the front page of Corriere dello Sport, but for all the wrong reasons. "Overwhelmed by the All Blacks" ran the simple but precise headline.

"I haven't hidden the fact that I think this World Cup is too early for them. They've come a hell of a long way," Italy coach Kieran Crowley said of his young squad.

Unfortunately, there is also still a long way to go.

Italy are still in this World Cup and expectations have been tempered for their final pool game with hosts France, a situation Italy are more accustomed to and comfortable with.

As for Saturday's papers, Italian rugby fans will probably also want to chuck them in the bin. REUTERS