First-half tries from Sergio Parisse, Luciano Orquera and Martin Castrogiovanni propelled Italy on their way to a 27-10 victory in their Pool C match with USA at Trafalgar Park on Tuesday.
The Eagles hit back with a try, conversion and penalty from Chris Wyles before the interval but a converted penalty try 14 minutes from time sealed victory, along with a potentially crucial bonus point, for the Italians.
The Italians got off to a flier in the third minute when captain Parisse collected in acres of space and ambled home under the posts after a surging move on the left exposed the USA defence. Mirco Bergamasco added an easy conversion.
The Eagles hit back after 17 minutes when centre Paul Emerick capitalised on a great lineout to break through three tackles before offloading to Wyles who charged over. The full back then kicked the extras to level the score.
Mirco Bergamasco and Wyles landed penalties at either end before a powerful drive from the Italian forwards opened the way for fly half Orquera to sneak through a gap and put his side 15-10 ahead just before the half hour. This time Bergamasco saw his conversion slip outside the right-hand post.
Prop Castrogiovanni muscled his way over at the left corner after Fabio Semenzato was halted just short of the line but referee George Clancy ruled out the try after consulting the TMO.
However, Castrogiovanni was not to be denied when he drove through a ruck of defenders on the stroke of half-time to plant the ball down.
The Azzurri secured the bonus point after 66 minutes when the USA pack collapsed under a surge from the Italy scrum and Clancy gave a penalty try. Bergamasco stroked over his third successful kick of the night to extend the deficit to 17 points.Like Rugby World? Subscribe to the magazine for the latest comprehensive content.