World Cup - Italy cruise to win over Russia
Inspirational Italy captain Sergio Parisse steered his side to a 53-17 win over Russia in their rugby World Cup Pool C match at Trafalgar Park in Nelson.
Parisse was instrumental in at least three of Italy's six first-half tries, scoring the first and setting up two others as the clinical Italians dominated the forward exchanges to notch 50 points for the first time in a World Cup match.
"We are very happy to take the victory and the five points which was very important for us to try and qualify (for the quarter-finals)," Parisse said in a pitch-side interview.
"We scored some tries and we take confidence in our attack but our defence we must improve because the USA and Ireland will be very hard," he added of their final two pool opponents.
Winger Giulio Toniolatti and centre Tommaso Benvenuti also scored two tries each, while scrumhalf Edoardo Gori, winger Luke McLean and Alessandro Zanni also crossed for the Italians.
The Italian scrum, which constantly had the Russians on the back foot, was also rewarded when referee Waynes Barnes gave a penalty try after the Russians had collaped the scrum for the fourth time on their goal line.
Fly-half Riccardo Bocchino converted four of their first half tries, though he and Benvenuti missed five conversions between them.
Italy hooker Fabio Ongaro was sin-binned for an illegal tackle on Igor Klyuchnikov when he went into the tackle without wrapping his arms around the Russian fullback.
Russia took full advantage when replacement scrumhalf Alexander Yanyushkin darted over for his side's first try at the World Cup and fly-half Konstantin Rachkov converted from wide.
Benvenuti grabbed his second try of the game when he kicked ahead and won the race to the ball to give the Italians a 43-7 lead shortly after the halftime break, before Russian Vladimir Ostroushko scored his side's second try after a sustained build-up.
Italy winger McLean, who had been a constant threat, crossed for his side's eighth try before Russia centre Alexei Makovetsky took a long pass on the left and went over for Russia's third try.
Replacement loose forward Alessandro Zanni barged over for Italy's ninth and final try.
"Our play was not so good tonight but I am glad we scored some tries, they are the first tries for the Russian team at the tournament," Russian lock Alexander Voitov said.
"It's a tough game and each game is new for us and we are very glad to be here."
6’ Parisse try: Italy 5-0
7’ Bocchino conversion: Italy 7-0
14’ Toniolatti try: Italy 12-0
16’ Benvenuti try: Italy 17-0
23’ Toniolatti try: Italy 22-0
23’ Bocchino conversion: Italy 24-0
27’ Penalty try: Italy 29-0
28’ Bocchino conversion: Italy 31-0
34’ Yanushkin try: 31-5 Russia
35’ Rachkov conversion: 31-7 Russia
38’ Gori try: Italy 36-7
39’ Bocchino conversion: Italy 38-7
49’ Benvenuti try: Italy 43-7
50’ Ostroushkov try: 43-12 Russia
64’ McLean try: Italy 48-12
72’ Makovetskiy try: 48-17 Russia
77’ Zanni try: Italy 53-17