Italy close in on first quarters spot in World Cup
Nelson: Pack power helped Italy overcome a determined effort by the United States to claim a 27-10 bonus-point victory yesterday, putting them in reach of their first appearance in the rugby World Cup quarter-finals.
The victory moved Italy onto 10 points in Pool C, level with Australia and three behind leaders Ireland, who they meet in a pivotal clash in Dunedin on Sunday.
Captain Sergio Parisse, flyhalf Luciano Orquera and prop Martin Castrogiovanni scored tries as the Italian pack proved far too strong for their weary opponents, who conceded the all-important penalty try 14 minutes from time.
"We are happy because we took the five points, that was the important thing for us," Parisse said in a pitchside interview.
"The United States gave us a lot of hard work but now we are looking forward to the match against Ireland with a lot of confidence."
The Italians were quick out of the blocks and a big score looked likely after a clever pop pass from lock Cornelius van Zyl set Parisse clear to score under the posts after just three minutes.
The Americans were not downhearted by their sloppy start and drew level 10 minutes later when powerful centre Paul Emerick cut through some slack Italian defending before offloading for fullback Chris Wyles to cross for an easy try.
Wyles converted his try and then he and Italian winger Mirco Bergamasco traded penalties as the fired-up Americans, who were hammered 67-5 by Australia on Friday, threatened to take an unlikely lead.
However, the Italian scrum was too strong for their opponents and they forced the determined American side to defend for long periods.
The pressure told when Italy grabbed their second try through Orquera after 30 minutes. As the US defence sprinted out, the flyhalf stole in behind to cross for a score.
Italian muscle was beginning to tell and after being denied by the television match official minutes earlier, tighthead prop Castrogiovanni bulldozed over from close range to stretch the lead to 20-10 just before halftime.