A full review of Italy's World Cup win over Canada at Elland Road

Canada continued the theme of Tier Two improvement by pushing Italy close at Elland Road in their World Cup pool game. They dominated the second half and had they scored a third try as they pressurised the opposition line around the 70th minute, it would have been interesting to see how Italy reacted. When Canada then opted to kick a penalty, momentum was lost and the Azzurri were able to close out the game.


DTH van der Merwe – The Canada winger is always a livewire and he caught Italy napping with a brilliant try in the first half. Breaking from his own 22, he darted around several tackles, had a swift interchange with centre Ciaran Hearn and dived over near the posts. As he was against Ireland last week, van der Merwe is Canada’s biggest attacking threat.

DTH van der Merwe

Over time: DTH van der Merwe dives over for Canada’s opening try. Photo: Getty Images

The Yorkshire crowd – How wonderful to see a city that for so long has struggled to sustain success at the top level of English club rugby draw a big crowd for this match. Let’s hope at least some of the fans at Elland Road become engaged in the union code and turn out to support Yorkshire Carnegie.

Beards – In 2011 Canadians Adam Kleeberger and Jebb Sinclair set the bar in terms of facial hair and at this tournament it seems loosehead Hubert Buydens and lock Evan Olmstead who have taken up the challenge.

Evan Olmstead

Bearded wonder: Evan Olmstead shows off his impressive facial hair. Photo: Getty Images


Decisions – A few calls from the officials in this match raised eyebrows. Edoardo Gori conceded a penalty for a stamp on Nanyak Dala and got a talking to, but many felt he deserved a yellow card given that it was unnecessary at the back of the ruck. In the second half as Canada pressurised the Italy 22, assistant referee Glen Jackson ruled that Phil Mackenzie was in touch but the replays showed he clearly let go of the ball before going over the touchline – and that decision cost Canada. And did the lineout leading up to Gonzalo Garcia’s try go 5m?

Italian tackling – Canada offered far more in attack than the Italians thus put pressure on their opponents’ defence, but some of Italy’s one-on-one tackling was woeful. They’ll need to tighten that up before facing Ireland if they don’t want to concede a big score.

Michele Rizzo

Prop show: Michele Rizzo touches down for Italy in the first half. Photo: Getty Images


496 – The number of metres made by Canada compared to 367 by Italy. Interestingly, Canada’s back three made a total of 241 metres between them.

12 – The number of clean breaks made by Canada, more than twice as many as Italy (five).

15 – The number of tackles made by Francesco Minto, more than any other player.

Italy: L McLean; L Sarto, T Benvenuti (M Campagnaro 59), G Garcia, G Venditti; T Allan (C Canna 32-39), E Gori; M Rizzo (MAguero ht), L Ghiraldini (capt, D Giazzon 59), L Cittadini (M Castrogiovanni ht), Q Geldenhuys (M Fuser 79), J Furno, A Zanni, F Minto, S Vunisa (M Bergamasco 58).

Tries (2): Rizzo, Garcia. Cons: Allan 2. Pens: Allan 3.

Canada: M Evans; P Mackenzie, C Hearn, C Braid (C Trainor 14), DTH van der Merwe; N Hirayama (H Jones 73), J Mackenzie (P Mack 55); H Buydens (D Sears-Duru 55), R Barkwill (A Carpenter 58), D Wooldridge (A Tiedemann 65), J Sinclair, J Cudmore (E Olmstead 72), N Dala (K Gilmour 59), J Moonlight, T Ardron (capt).

Tries (2): Van der Merwe, Evans. Con: Hirayama. Pens: Hirayama 3.

Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)

Man of the Match: DTH van der Merwe

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