Take Six: Italy and England maintain perfect World Cup starts

There were impressive wins for both England and Italy as the two Guinness Six Nations sides continued their unbeaten starts to the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

There were impressive wins for both England and Italy as the two Guinness Six Nations sides continued their unbeaten starts to the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Here’s our latest look at all the key talking points from day seven.

Italy continued their perfect start to the Rugby World Cup with a seven-try win over Canada that gives them ten points from a possible ten in Japan.

Following the success against Namibia in their opening game, they powered to a 48-7 victory over the Canucks, with Jake Polledri named man of the match for his powerful display.

The Azzurri ran in two tries in the first half to lead 17-0, Braam Steyn and Dean Budd the men to cross.

And they wrapped up the bonus point just before the hour mark after Sebastian Negri had crossed and collapsed maul resulted in a penalty try.

Mattia Bellini, Federico Zani and Matteo Minozzi rounded out the scoring, with the latter also showing up well in defence with a number of try-saving tackles.

Conor O’Shea’s side will now look to cause an upset against either South Africa or New Zealand to try to earn a place in the World Cup quarter-finals for the very first time.

O’Shea was impressed with the progress the team has made over the last four years and was planning to enjoy the first two performances before turning his attention to the Springboks.

He said: “We’ll see how we go in the next two matches. We’ve already qualified for the next World Cup, which is huge, it was a goal.

“Four years ago in England it was 23-18 when we played Canada and today it was a huge win for us. Compared to that you can see this was a great victory and we have shown great progression. We now must show our very best level in the next two matches.”

England raised their level several notches in Kobe as they romped to a 45-7 victory over the USA to make it two wins from two.

Having been a little inaccurate at times in their opening success over Tonga, Eddie Jones’ side responded with a complete performance against the Americans.

George Ford got them up and running with a try after just six minutes, and by half-time they held a commanding 19-0 lead with their scrum and rolling maul causing the USA all sorts of problems.

The bonus-point try came early in the second half, ensuring no anxious moments late on as there had been against Tonga – Joe Cokanasiga the man to get it.

The Bath man would go on to score a second late on, while Ruaridh McConnochie and Lewis Ludlam each got their first Test tries in the comfortable victory.

The USA did score a try with the final play of the game, ending England’s run of 248 minutes without conceding a try in Tests, but Gary Gold’s team finished with 14 men as John Quill became the first player to be sent off in the tournament.

England will now turn their attentions to Argentina who they face in nine days’ time in Tokyo, knowing that a victory would clinch a quarter-final place.

Jack Carty will start for Ireland against Japan in their crucial Rugby World Cup match after being named at fly-half by Joe Schmidt.

The Connacht player is one of four changes from the team that beat Scotland 27-3 in their World Cup opener, coming in for Johnny Sexton who has been struggling with a quad injury.

The other three changes are also in the backline with Keith Earls and Rob Kearney now fit again to come into the back three.

They replace Andrew Conway and Jordan Larmour respectively, with the latter dropping to the bench, while Chris Farrell is the final change, in for Bundee Aki.

On the bench Joey Carbery will make his return to action, having not featured since the opening warm-up match against Italy.

Ireland can take a giant step towards the quarter-finals with a victory over the hosts, who also have five points to their name thanks to a bonus-point win over Russia.

Wales face the biggest game of their pool stages on Sunday when they take on Australia in Tokyo, and they look set to have a full deck to pick from.

Hadleigh Parkes and Ken Owens had been injury concerns after picking up niggles in the win over Georgia on Monday, but the pair were back in training.

Bradley Davies, who came in for the injured Cory Hill, is still getting up to full speed, but forwards coach Robin McBryde was pleased to have everyone at his disposal, with particular interest in how the Welsh back row will line up against the Wallabies.

He said: “They all took part in training this morning. Bradley did not do a great deal, just helped us out with a little bit of scrummaging and added his weight. He was on good form. Hadleigh and Ken trained. Ken took a full part.

“There is a good competitiveness there and it’s really healthy for us and there will definitely be some discussion points surrounding the starting XV and the starting back row in particular.”

Greig Laidlaw pulled no punches when describing Sunday’s opening defeat to Ireland, admitting that Scotland are now in knockout mode.

Laidlaw and his side never really got into the game in Yokohama, falling to a 27-3 defeat that leaves them playing catch-up in the pool.

They can still reach the quarter-finals, but cannot afford any slip-ups against Russia, Japan and first of all Samoa.

And Laidlaw has urged his teammates to respond to the adversity and pick themselves up.

He said: “I’m not going to dress it up any other way – it’s been hard. We’ve worked hard to this point and are extremely disappointed with how we played against Ireland, but we’ve got to pick ourselves up and go again.

“No Scottish team has ever won all four pool matches (Scotland won all three in 1991), so at the minute we’re not any different to any other team. We’ve just had the number one-ranked team in the world up first.

“Were we pleased with our performance? No, far from it. But now every game is a knockout and we need to get it right against Samoa on Monday night.”

France captain Guilhem Guirado and assistant coach Fabien Galthié, as well as forwards coach Sébastien Bruno, took part in a training session for local schoolchildren on Wednesday.

In Kumamoto, where Les Bleus are preparing for their next match against the USA, the trio ran a training session with some 15-year-olds from a local school.

Guirado explained that he had volunteered to take part after France had completed their day of training earlier in the day.

“There was no obligation to come but I love training the children. It’s a pleasure and what’s more, there were some very talented players,” he said.

Les Bleus were given the day off on Thursday with the squad taking part in a cultural visit to Suizen-ji Joju-en garden in Kumamoto.