Italy retained their European Shield rugby league crown but had to overcome a fight back from Germany before running out 42-30 winners in Huerth, outside Cologne.
The defending champions were seemingly in cruise mode as they established a 36-6 lead on the hour but the Germans lifted for arguably their best sustained period of international rugby league in the final quarter of the game.
Both sides had hat trick heroes in the centres, Cyril Armani a stand out for the victors while Jimmy Keinhorst was superb in defeat.
Armani opened the scoring in the 11th minute when he met hooker Daniele Pasqualini’s pinpoint cross field kick to the right flank.
Ten minutes later, a swift backline movement saw home skipper Kristian Keinhorst level proceedings with a try between the posts.
Armani gave the Italians a solid grip on the trophy they have held since its inception last year with the completion of his treble in a blistering eight-minute spell, his last in the 34th minute, a magnificent 40 metre run.
“The match was very hard but the Italy team was very good and I think I played well” he said.
“The tournament itself was very good but for the development of Italy we are now ready to step up a level.”
Crucially, the Italians added a fourth touchdown a minute from the interval from Giovanni Franchi, Filippo Veronese kicking all the conversions to give the visitors a decisive18-point lead at the break.
Franchi notched his second twelve minutes into the second half and Pasquilini took a cunning offload from Marco Ferrazzano to cross on the right but Italy then switched off.
Simon Cooper stemmed the visiting flow with an interception on his own 20 and two plays later Jimmy Keinhorst broke through in centre field on a 40-metre run to the line.
Four minutes later, the boisterous home crowd was brought to life as Germany created an overlap ten metres from their own try line, Nick Keinhorst going 90 metres to score and convert his own try.
Jimmy Keinhorst maintained the family link with a quick fire brace as Germany inched back to within ten points.
Filippo Veronese crossed late in the game to seal victory for Italy, Veronese maintaining his perfect kicking record before Timo Trosch crossed in the corner for a consolation German try in the final seconds.
Italian coach Tiziano Franchini was delighted to keep the silverware in the IRL trophy cabinet.
“We played well but switched off for 20 minutes so we have to work on controlling the game better” he said.
“I saw a very good improvement in our domestic-based Italian players”
The three Keinhorsts – Nick, Jimmy and Kristian – scored 26 of Germany’s 30 points, with player/coach Danny Stocks happy with the overall application of his charges.
“The players that represented Germany earned the jersey” he commented.
“Twelve of our seventeen have played less than five games in their whole lives, so our inexperienced side held their own against much more experienced opposition and I hope to build on that in the future”
Stocks also paid tribute to the enthusiastic home crowd, “I have to thank them for their support. It showed that that the German public can take to Rugby League.”
Kristian Keihorst (capt),
Tries: J.Keinhorst 3, K. Keinhorst, N.Keinhorst, Trosch
Goals: J.Keinhorst 3 from 6
Fabio Berzieri (capt),
Jason Dubas Fisher,
Mauro Di Maggio,
Tries: Armani 3, Franchi 2, Pasqualini, Veronese
Goals: F.Veronese 7 from 7