The Azzurri win 38-17 in Nice to go top of Pool A
Four years ago Uruguay rocked the world with a win over Fiji. It was the kind of result that makes the Rugby World Cup truly special. And in Nice, against Italy, it looked like they would be on for another momentous victory.
But after a humbling first half in which Uruguay were excellent and led 17-7, the Italians knuckled down and totted up the scores to secure a bonus-point win, 38-17.
Second-half scores from Michele Lamaro, Lorenzo Cannone, Ignacio Brex and a fired-up five-pointer from Monty Ioane signalled that the Italians were angry, up for it and ready not just to make amends but snuff out any Uruguayan hope.
Los Teros had done so well in the first.
After a Lorenzo Pani score to start Italy off, Uruguay drew level with a penalty try after Danilo Fischetti collapsed a maul. The prop joined Niccolò Cannone in the sin-bin and Italy, two men down, felt the strain.
Uruguay took the lead on minute 36 after hammering away at the line. The South Americans slipped two quick passes to the left corner, where Nicolás Freitas scored the try.
A snap drop-goal by Felipe Etcheverry that crept over the bar made it 17-7 at the break.
Turnaround for Italy bonus-point win
But an angrier and more clinical Italy returned for the second half. And they were helped by a contentious yellow card for Uruguay captain Andrés Vilaseca, who made glancing contact to the head of Pani after the winger dipped low into the tackle.
Italy scored 14 points while the centre was gone. They were getting shoulders through contact on a regular basis and captain Lamaro took a short ball and simply wouldn’t be denied at the line. It was his first Test try.
A pumped-up Ioane hit a line that blurred the Uruguayan defence and thundered over. Cannone got one with Teros hanging off him – and that was the one that secured the Italy bonus-point win. And then Brex went over from a ball so short it almost felt like sleight of hand.
With Paolo Garbisi also knocking over penalties, it was clear that the Azzurri were in ruthless mood for the second 40. So it was job done, but Italy are still looking for an 80-minute display.
After their two bonus-point wins in Pool A, they should finish third in the group at the very least and qualify for Rugby World Cup 2027.
Uruguay, meanwhile, have impressed again but still have no points to show for it.