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Italy outmuscle gutsy Namibia

MATCH REPORT: Italy’s second-half show made sure they kicked off their World Cup campaign with a 52-8 win over Namibia at Stade Geoffrey-Guichard in Saint-Étienne on Saturday.

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In the wake of the big excitement of the World Cup opener between France and New Zealand, the Pool A fixture between Italy and Namibia was a little bit more of a subtle affair.

The Italians headed into the match as clear favourites and solidified that status with the seven-try victory over the African Nations.

Lorenzo Cannone, Paolo Garbisi, Dino Lamb, Ange Capuozzo, Hame Faiva, Manuel Zuliani and Paolo Odogwu were the try scorers for the Italians, while fullback Tommaso Allan was flawless from the tee – adding 17 points to the team score with the boot.

For Allister Coetzee’s men, it’s another World Cup match without a win.

The loss is the 23rd straight defeat in as many World Cup matches.

The men in blue showed great promise, especially in the first half. Gerswhin Mouton and Tiaan Swanepoel were the standouts. Mouton scored the team’s only try, while Swanepoel added a penalty to the tally.

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It was always going to be a tough encounter for Namibia and the yellow card to Torsten van Jaarsveld just made it more challenging.

Nonetheless, based on their first-half performance the men from Africa could secure their first World Cup as the tournament continues.

Swanepoel and Allan exchanged penalties before Italy No.8 Lorenzo Cannone powered over the line at the back of a solid maul.

Allan added the extras for the 10-3 lead.

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With Namibia down to 14 men after Van Jaarsveld’s yellow card, Italy took full advantage. Paolo Garbisi spotted a gap and dived over for his team’s second try, 17-3.

The Namibians finally enjoyed some possession. Tiaan Swanepoel broke through the defence before a loop pass found 23-year-old Gerswin Mouton, who dived over the line.

On the brink of the break, Swanepoel had a chance to narrow the deficit however his long-range attempt was pushed wide. It was the last action of teh first half and Italy took a 17-8 lead at the break.

The Italians struck the first blow in the second half. Similar to their first try, the Azzurri set up a powerful driving maul before Dino Lamb planted the ball over the line. Allan added the extra for the 24-8 lead.

The momentum gradually shifted and Italy started to stamp their authority on the match.

The Italians found some space out wide and the brilliant interplay between the backs saw  Italian star Capuozzo, who had a quiet first half, dived over, 31-8.

The Namibians created a couple of opportunities, but incredible defence by the Italians especially at maul time nullified their efforts.

In contrast, the Italians took their chances. They set up another attack with replacement hooker Hame Faiva rounding off a well-worked team try.

The closing minutes saw Manuel Zuliani and Paolo Odogwu get their names on the Italian scoresheet for the 52-8 win.

Man of the match: Paolo Garbisi and Tommaso Allan put in incredible performances. While Tiaan Swanepoel was the standout for Namibia. However, our nod goes to Lorenzo Cannone. The Italy No.8 was amazing. He worked really hard and scored his team’s first try.

The scorers:

For Italy:
Tries: Cannone, Garbisi, Lamb, Capuozzo, Fava, Zuliani, Odogwu
Cons: Allan 7
Pen: Allan

For Namibia:
Try: Mouton
Pen: Swanepoel

Yellow card: Torsten van Jaarsveld (Namibia, 9 – collapsing the maul)

Teams:

Italy: 15 Tommaso Allan, 14 Ange Capuozzo, 13 Juan Ignacio Brex, 12 Luca Morisi, 11 Montanna Ioane, 10 Paolo Garbisi, 9 Stephen Varney, 8 Lorenzo Cannone, 7 Michele Lamaro (captain), 6 Sebastian Negri, 5 Federico Ruzza, 4 Dino Lamb, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Giacomo Nicotera, 1 Danilo Fischetti.
Replacements: 16 Hame Faiva, 17 Ivan Nemer, 18 Marco Riccioni, 19 David Sisi, 20 Manuel Zuliani, 21 Martin Page-Relo, 22 Paolo Odogwu, 23 Pierre Bruno.

Namibia: 15 Divan Rossouw, 14 Gerswin Mouton, 13 Johan Deysel (captain), 12 Danco Burger, 11 JC Greyling, 10 Tiaan Swanepoel, 9 Damian Stevens, 8 Richard Hardwick, 7 Johan Retief, 6 Wian Conradie, 5 Tjiuee Uanivi, 4 Adriaan Ludick, 3 Johan Coetzee, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Desiderius Sethie.
Replacements: 16 Louis van der Westhuizen, 17 Jason Benade, 18 Casper Viviers, 19 Tiaan De Klerk, 20 Prince Gaoseb, 21 Jacques Theron, 22 Andre van der Bergh, 23 Le Roux Malan.

Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Paul Williams (New Zealand), Chris Busby (Ireland)
TMO: Joy Neville (Ireland)

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