Azzurri cruise past hapless Canucks
WORLD CUP MATCH REPORT: Italy sent out a clear statement of intent when they dismissed Canada 48-7 in Fukuoka City on Thursday.
The Azzurri – who also dismissed Namibia by 47-22 in their opening match – will now target South Africa next week Friday in a game that could be a straight shootout for a play-off spot.
Italia outscored the hapless Canucks by seven tries to one in a rather one-sided affair.
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It was Italy’s second bonus-point win in as many games.
It was not a perfect performance as Italy slipped at times from flair and finesse to sloppy.
With Italy seeking a first World Cup quarterfinal berth, their maximum points from two matches sent a message to heavyweights South Africa not to underestimate them.
The Springboks, who lost their opener against New Zealand, paid a high price when they were guilty of taking Japan lightly at the last World Cup and cannot afford to do the same again when they meet Italy in Shizuoka in eight days.
Italy, still with the All Blacks to play as well as South Africa, showed their depth by making 10 changes to the starting XV when they beat Namibia and were still too strong for the Canadians.
A day after Uruguay’s shock win over Fiji, Canada started with hopes of achieving a similar upset.
The mostly neutral crowd also gave their support to the Canadians in the 22,000 seat stadium, but it was the vastly rearranged Italian side with the superior forward pack who controlled most of the game.
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In a dominant opening spell, flyhalf Tommaso Allan landed a penalty and converted tries by Braam Steyn and Dean Budd.
Steyn sent Peter Nelson flying and barged between Nick Blevins and Jeff Hassler on a short-range charge at the line.
New Zealand-born second row forward Budd, filling in as captain with Sergio Parisse rested, galloped 30 metres through a non-existent defence for his try.
Italy’s explosive start realised 17 points in 15 minutes.
Canada arrested the scoring spree for the remainder of the half, but their own scoring opportunities evaporated with missed tackles, a misfiring line-out, and wrong options.
Replacement Matt Heaton dropped the ball when he had the line at his mercy after Tyler Ardron busted his way through the Italian defence.
DTH Van der Merwe confronted Italian fullback Matteo Minozzi with a two-man overlap and fed Gordon McRorie on the outside who was bustled into touch.
The second half was barely three minutes old when Italy were on the board again with Sebastian Negri scoring their third try.
Canada went close again when Van der Merwe set up Jeff Hassler but the cover defence put the wing out in the corner.
A penalty try for an illegal tackle by Heaton ensured the bonus point for Italy and reduced Canada to 14-men with Heaton in the sin bin.
Mattia Bellini stretched the lead to 36-0 before Andrew Coe scored in the right corner to get Canada on the board.
But the Italian pack, who had an impressive night, responded immediately to drive over the line for Federico Zani to touch down, and the backline followed with a long-range attack that ended the tame with a try to Matteo Minozzi.
Man of the match: Italian centre Michele Campagnaro and fullback Matteo Minozzi had a feast against the porous Canadian defence. Azzurri captain Dean Budd – along with fellow forwards Jake Polledri and Sebastian Negri also enjoyed the freedom afforded to him by Canada’s sub-standard game. Our award goes to the third member of a very impressive Italian back row, No.8 Braam Steyn – who managed 60-odd metres in his 13 carries, beat five defenders and made 10 tackles.
Moment of the match: The two-try blitz by Braam Steyn (eighth minute) and Dean Budd (13th) not only took the sting out of Canada, it effectively ended the game as a contest. Yes, the Canucks put up some token resistance – and launched a few promising raids, one which resulted in a try – but they never really threatened an Azzurri team that hardly changed out of cruise mode.
Villain: Nobody, unless you give it to the Canadian team for failing to make it a contest.
Tries: Steyn, Budd, Negri, Penalty try, Bellini, Zani, Minozzi
Cons: Allan 3, Canna, penalty try does not require a conversion
Yellow card: Matt Heaton (Canada, 58 – cynical foul, illegally collapsing maul near tryline)
Italy: 15 Matteo Minozzi, 14 Tommaso Benvenuti, 13 Michele Campagnaro, 12 Jayden Hayward, 11 Giulio Bisegni, 10 Tommaso Allan, 9 Callum Braley, 8 Braam Steyn, 7 Jake Polledri, 6 Sebastian Negri, 5 Dean Budd (captain), 4 David Sisi, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Luca Bigi, 1 Andrea Lovotti.
Replacements: 16 Federico Zani, 17 Nicola Quaglio, 18 Marco Riccioni, 19 Federico Ruzza, 20 Maxime Mbanda, 21 Guglielmo Palazzani, 22 Carlo Canna, 23 Mattia Bellini.
Canada: 15 Patrick Parfrey, 14 Jeff Hassler, 13 Ben Lesage, 12 Nick Blevins, 11 DTH Van Der Merwe, 10 Peter Nelson, 9 Gordon McRorie, 8 Tyler Ardron (captain), 7 Lucas Rumball, 6 Michael Sheppard, 5 Josh Larsen, 4 Conor Keys, 3 Matt Tierney, 2 Eric Howard, 1 Hubert Buydens.
Replacements: 16 Benoit Piffero, 17 Djustice Duru-Sears, 18 Cole Keith, 19 Luke Campbell, 20 Matt Heaton, 21 Jamie Mackenzie, 22 Ciaran Hearn, 23 Andrew Coe.
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Wayne Barnes (England), Karl Dickson (England)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)