Seventh heaven for Azzurri after opening win over Namibia

Italy kicked off their Rugby World Cup campaign with an important, if error-strewn, 47-22 win over Namibia in Hanazono.

Italy kicked off their Rugby World Cup campaign with an important, if error-strewn, 47-22 win over Namibia in Hanazono.

The Azzurri scrum earned an early penalty try and then Tommaso Allan and Tito Tebaldi both went over in the first half.

After the interval, Edoardo Padovani and replacements Carlo Canna, Jake Polledri and Matteo Minozzi stretched the scoreline with tries of their own.

But it could have been so many more than the seven tries Conor O’Shea’s side managed.

Their attacking game created line breaks almost at will in the first half, but the final pass so often evaded them.

That will need to improve for the big tests to come against the All Blacks and Springboks in Pool B.

Meanwhile, the Welwitschias scored three tries of their own, scrum-half Damian Stevens with the game’s opener and wings JC Greyling and Chad Plato dotting down in the second period.

But the Azzurri more than merited their win, O’Shea opting to empty his bench early in the second period with one eye on the clash with Canada on Thursday.


Italy had the best lineout in 2019 Guinness Six Nations, but their first one on Sunday went awry and Namibia pounced.

Plato went sizzling up the right wing and there was Stevens running the support line on the inside to go over, Cliven Loubser added the extras and the Welwitschias were dreaming of an upset.

But thereafter, the first half was a story of Italian attack against manful Namibian defence.

The Azzurri’s first score came from a penalty try, referee Nic Berry given little option after the minnows’ front row splintered on their own line.

The floodgates looked like they might open thereafter as Italy attacked with pace and precision.


Maxime Mbanda, Tommaso Benvenuti and Padovani all went clear down the left but each time the scoring pass went to ground rather than hand.

Sergio Parisse then thought he had marked the occasion with a pick-and-go score from a scrum but the referee rightly called it back for an earlier infringement.

Somehow the Namibians were still level at 7-7 after the first quarter, but pressure finally told when Luca Morisi’s break and Tebaldi’s pass allowed Allan to go over – after the fly-half had careered into the post initially.

The fly-half added the extras for a 14-7 lead and it looked like it would stay that way until the break, as Italy continued to spurn opportunities.

But then Tebaldi struck, beautifully fed by Federico Ruzza for their third try and a 21-7 half-time lead.


The rain had held off for much of the first half, but at half-time the downpour arrived.

And Italy continued to hammer at the line, wrapping up the bonus point when Benvenuti’s clever kick allowed Padovani to dot down.

No sooner was the win wrapped up, than O’Shea emptied his bench and replacement fly-half Canna was next to go over, before adding the extras himself.

Loubser got Namibia on the board in the second half with a penalty and their day got even better before the hour mark when, from an attacking scrum, they worked an overlap to put Greyling in the corner.

But Polledri barrelled over from a lineout for Italy’s sixth, Minozzi dived over for another before Plato finished off the scoring late on to give Namibia’s fans the final moment of cheer.

After a wasteful first half that had seen too many scoring passes go to ground, Italy got their reward on the stroke of half time.

The gong had already been sounded when Ruzza went charging up the blindside and produced a fine pop pass to Tebaldi, and the No.9 did the rest.

Allan drilled the extras and a 21-7 lead was a fairer reflection of the first half and O’Shea’s men took full advantage thereafter.

Federico Ruzza is quickly becoming the star man in this Italian pack.

The pre-match focus was rightly on Parisse’s record achievement, but the Benetton lock is now their go-to man.

He can produce offloads, carry hard, make his tackles and step into the back row when needed.

He laid on the Tebaldi try with a moment of magic, also did the dirty work and was one of the first to be taken off and wrapped in cotton wool by O’Shea when the bonus point was secured.