Find out what happened in this Group B clash in Osaka
Played – 4
Italy wins – 2
Namibia wins – 2
Did You Know?
Italy skipper and No 8 Sergio Parisse is only the third player to play at five Rugby World Cups – after Brian Lima (Samoa, 1991-2007) and Mauro Bergamasco (Italy, 1999-2015).
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In a nutshell
In the end Italy enjoyed a comfortable win over Namibia in their opening match at RWC 2019, but it wasn’t perfect and the numerous substitutions made in one go early in the second half meant both sides struggled to build coherency in their play.
Namibia caught Italy off-guard early on: securing possession after a messy Azzurri lineout on halfway, spreading the ball wide and producing a couple of quick passes back inside to put Damian Stevens into space for an easy try.
Italy were quick to hit back as they relied on their strength up front when opting for a five-metre scrum from a penalty and then earned a penalty try.
Italy had plenty of possession but inaccurate distribution did not allow them to capitalise on it until Tommaso Allan spun off the post to touch down following a Luca Morisi break.
The highlight of the first 40 came from lock Federico Ruzza just before the half-time gong. Taking the ball from the back of a maul, he galloped down the blindside wing before producing a perfect no-look pass to Tito Tebaldi, who duly ran over the line.
The rain teemed down in the second half but Italy wasted little time in scoring the bonus-point try. Tommaso Benvenuti sent a grubber kick across to Edoardo Padovani on the wing and he simply had to pick up the ball and cross the line.
After that, the replacements flooded on for Italy and Carla Canna was quick to charge over for a try.
Namibia weren’t done, though, scoring more points through the boot of Cliven Loubser and a try from JC Greyling.
Things petered out in the last 2o minutes – those raft of replacements not helping – but late tries from Jake Polledri and Matteo Minozzi added something a flourish to the final score for Italy before Chad Plato broke through to have the final say for Namibia.
It’s hard to pick a standout in a match when both teams made a lot of changes early in the second half and things became a little disjointed, so we’ve opted for someone who provided the highlight of the game. Second-rows are not known for silky skills and soft hands, but Federico Ruzza’s perfectly-timed and perfectly-executed offload to Tito Tebaldi delivered a crucial try just before the break. A moment of excellence in a match full of the average.
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Italy coach Conor O’Shea: “We’ll have to move on from that pretty quickly. It wasn’t very pretty. There was too many errors in it and it was difficult conditions at times in the second half, which doesn’t excuse it. We’re disappointed with the way we played. That’s not the true version of us.”
Namibia coach Phil Davies: “I’m very proud of the players, the way we adapted to the speed of the game, some of the tries we scored and some of the resolute defence. You know I was really happy, but credit to Italy, you know, they put a bit of pressure on and scored at crucial times and they deserve the win.”
Italy: Jayden Hayward (Matteo Minozzi 45); Mattia Bellini, Tommaso Benvenuti, Luca Morisi, Edoardo Padovani; Tommaso Allan (Carlo Canna 45), Tito Tebaldi (Guglielmo Palazzani 59); Nicola Quaglio (Simone Ferrari 45), Luca Bigi (Oliviero Fabiani 45), Tiziano Pasquali (Marco Riccioni 39), Alessandro Zanni, Federico Ruzza (Dean Budd 45), Braam Steyn (Jake Polledri 45), Maxime Mbanda, Sergio Parisse (captain).
Tries: Penalty try 11, Allan 26, Tebaldi 40, Padovani 43, Canna 47, Polledri 70, Minozzi 76. Cons: Allan 3, Canna 2.
Namibia: Johan Tromp (PJ Walters 68); Chad Plato, Justin Newman (Helarius Axasman Kisting 48), Darryl De La Harpe, JC Greyling; Cliven Loubser, Damian Stevens (Eugene Jantjies 48); Andre Rademeyer (Nelius Theron 70), Torsten George Van Jaarsveld (Louis van der Westhuizen 57), Johannes Coetzee (AJ De Klerk 57), PJ Van Lill (Johan Retief 57), Tjiuee Uanivi (captain), Rohan Kitshoff (Max Katjijeko ht), Wian Conradie, Janco Venter.
Tries: Stevens 6, Greyling 58, Plato 79. Cons: Loubser 2. Pen: Loubser.
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