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Italy flatters in record opening win over Namibia at Rugby World Cup

Namibia's Wian Conradie, left, and Italy's Paolo Garbisi challenge for the ball during the Rugby World Cup Pool A match between Italy and Namibia   -  
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Laurent Cipriani/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved


Italy made a bonus point-winning start to the Rugby World Cup against a Namibia team that made the Azzurri sweat for every point at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard on Saturday.

The 52-8 scoreline was Italy's best ever against Namibia.

But the seven-try victory with perfect goalkicking from Tommaso Allan was given a flattering sheen by three tries in the last nine minutes as Namibia finally flagged.

First-game nerves, the baking sunshine, and the Namibians' never-say-die attitude stymied Italy from showing its greater experience for the first hour.

Namibia hooker Torsten van Jaarsveld's yellow card gave Italy the break it needed to score two tries in the first 15 minutes. But when it was back to 15 on 15, Namibia grew into the game and scored its only try — an impressive team effort — and worried Italy well into the second half.

Another lineout maul set up Italy's third converted try for 24-8, and the backline finally clicked for exciting wings Ange Capuozzo and Montanna Ioane to combine for a sweeping try from deep inside their own half.

Capuozzo touched the ball only once in the first half, and Ioane six times. Namibia's line speed and defense frustrated Italy's backline. Meanwhile, the Italy pack was losing turnovers and not able to impose itself.

It all came right in the end for Italy but the scoreline was more impressive than the display.

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