Italy overcame early jitters to inflict a 47-22 defeat on Namibia in their Pool B World Cup encounter in Osaka on Sunday. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
The four-try bonus point victory propels the Azzurri above the All Blacks to the top of the pool standings after the completion of the first round.
Italy were favourites to emerge as victors from this encounter. And while the expected result came to fruition, Namibia scored the first try and played so well in patches that they’ll be hopeful of potentially beating fellow minnows Canada on 13 October to clinch a first-ever World Cup victory.
The Italians made a nervy start and when their first lineout went awry, Namibia pounced to run in a wonderfully worked try which was finished off by scrumhalf Damian Stevens. After that, there wasn’t much in the way of attacking opportunities to the Welwitchias, but their defensive endeavour disrupted the Italians’ fluency.
Ultimately, the frustrated Italy side was given the break they sought, when the referee lost his patience with Namibia and awarded a penalty try to Italy.
With the scores level, the Azzurri dominated territory but were guilty of kicking possession away. They could still add two tries before the close of the half to take a comfortable 21-7 lead.
It was all Italy in the second half, despite a slight show of resurgence from Namibia in the middle part of the half. Italy added four tries to their tally, while the Namibia mustered up 15 further points, including the last score of the match, which drew a big cheer from the crowd.
Italy will face Canada in Fukuoka on Thursday, while Namibia are up against neighbours South Africa in Tokyo on Saturday.
Italy – Tries: Penalty try, Tommy Allan, Tito Tebaldi, Edoardo Padovani, Carlo Canna, Jake Polledri, Matteo Minozzi. Conversions: Automatic conversion, Allan (3), Canna (2).
Namibia – Tries: Damian Stevens, JC Greyling, Chad Plato. Conversions: Cliven Loubser (2). Penalty: Loubser.
Italy –15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Mattia Bellini, 13 Tommaso Benvenuti, 12 Luca Morisi, 11 Edoardo Padovani, 10 Tommaso Allan, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Sergio Parisse (c), 7 Maxime Mbandà, 6 Braam Steyn, 5 Federico Ruzza, 4 Alessandro Zanni, 3 Tiziano Pasquali, 2 Luca Bigi, 1 Nicola Quaglio.
Subs: 16 Oliviero Fabiani, 17 Simone Ferrari, 18 Marco Riccioni, 19 Dean Budd, 20 Jake Polledri, 21 Guglielmo Palazzani, 22 Carlo Canna, 23 Matteo Minozzi.
Namibia –15 Johan Tromp, 14 Chad Plato, 13 Justin Newman, 12 Darryl De La Harpe, 11 JC Greyling, 10 Cliven Loubser, 9 Damian Stevens, 8 Janco Venter, 7 Wian Conradie, 6 Rohan Kitshoff, 5 Tjiuee Uanivi (c), 4 PJ Van Lill, 3 Johannes Coetzee, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Andre Rademeyer.
Subs: 16 Louis van der Westhuizen, 17 AJ De Klerk, 18 Nelius Theron, 19 Johan Retief, 20 Max Katjijeko, 21 Eugene Jantjies, 22 Helarius Axasman Kisting, 23 Lesley Klim.
Photo: @RugbyWorldCup/Twitter/Getty Images