Italy overcome early scare to beat spirited Namibia

Rugby World Cup 2019

Pool B

Italy 47-22 Namibia

Namibia fought tooth and nail but experience told in the end as Italy sealed a rain-marred Pool B game at Hanazono Rugby Stadium on Sunday.

Italy crossed for seven tries but Namibia won over new fans with their never-say-die approach in testing conditions to finish with three of their own.

For Italy, with just one win in their last 11 Tests, it was a case of trying to get their tournament off to a flyer and restore some much needed confidence. They won their warm-up 85-15 against Russia on 17 August and also their last RWC game against Romania 32-22 four years ago.

Damian Stevens goes over for Namibia’s first try.

But it was Namibia who got off to a brilliant start, Chad Plato finding space out wide to find Darryl De La Harpe, who then sent scrum-half Damien Stevens, pictured diving over for the try. Fly-half Cliven Loubser converted and the outsiders were 7-0 ahead.As expected, Italy then began opening up Namibia out wide and it took some scrambling defence to keep them from quickly extending their lead.

Only a great cover tackle pulled down fly-half Tommaso Allan within sight of the line and his pass under pressure was not good enough for full-back Jayden Hayward to snap up with a try beckoning.

Italy were really laying down the law but mistakes cost them at the death.

In the 22nd minute, Namibia superbly forced the error from a scrum with Italy bearing down on their line to again avert another dangerous situation.

The second Italy try came in stunning fashion with Allan finishing off under the posts after a slick movement that figured Luca Morisi. Allan converted and Italy were 14-7 ahead and feeling a lot more comfortable as the Namibians – still looking for their first victory in a World Cup – desperately tried to stay in contention.

After the half-time siren had sounded, Italy still had a lineout to complete and extended their lead when Tito Tebaldi found space down the left from just outside the 22. Allan converted and they went into the break leading 21-7.

Italy captain Sergio Parisse surges past Namibia’s centre Darryl de la Harpe.

Three minutes into the second half, Edoardo Padovani extended the lead after collecting a well-directed grubber-kick, which was converted by Allan.

Carlo Canna had only been on the field a minute when he crossed soon after, though it had to be confirmed by the TMO. Canna converted and Italy were 35-7 ahead.

To their credit, Namibia never gave up and they got on the board again with a 50th-minute penalty from Loubser and then sealed a well-earned try that was worked from the base of a scrum, with winger JC Greyling finishing off.

With 10 minutes left, Italy were over again from a set piece try from a lineout, through Jake Poledri taking the plaudits this time to take the lead to 40-15.

The Italians’ seventh try came through replacement back Matteo Minozzi, but Namibia had the last laugh, Plato capping a super display when he broke through the defence 30 metres out to post their third try in fine style.

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