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Dublin: 3 °C Monday 16 December, 2019

'I promised the guys an old-school night' - O'Shea rewards Italy players before South Africa showdown

The Azzurri are two wins from two at the World Cup after cruising past Canada.

The Italy head coach is very happy with his team after picking up their second win of the World Cup pool stage.
The Italy head coach is very happy with his team after picking up their second win of the World Cup pool stage.
Image: Gareth Fuller

ITALY WILL ENJOY what Conor O’Shea termed “an old-school night” after cruising past Canada to make it two Rugby World Cup wins from two.

The Azzurri followed up their 47-22 bonus-point victory over Namibia by routing Canada by an even bigger margin, running in seven tries in a 48-7 success in Fukuoka.

Braam Steyn and Dean Budd went over in the first half and further scores from Sebastian Negri, Mattia Bellini, Federico Zani and Matteo Minozzi – along with a penalty try – ensured Italy had no issues against an opponent that had come close to upsetting them in two previous World Cup games.

O’Shea’s team now have an eight-day break before facing South Africa in a contest that will likely determine whether they make the quarter-finals or not, and the coach said his players have earned the right to let off some steam.

I promised the guys a bit of an old-school night earlier in the week,” O’Shea said.

“A four-day turnaround is tough, mentally as well as physically, so the whole squad have reacted brilliantly. We’re looking forward to tonight, and then we’ll start looking ahead tomorrow morning to the next challenge.

The boys will probably go longer than I will but they need to release the energy.

“One of the mental challenges when you play [is] emotionally, at this level. A lot of players are making their first matches at this level in a World Cup. It’s just to release the energy.

“We’ve got eight days now so we can enjoy ourselves tonight and then look forward to South Africa from tomorrow.”

Canada were playing their first match six days after the tournament started but could not live with Italy, having been beaten by slender five-point margins in their two previous World Cup games against them.

Andrew Coe’s fine late try at least ensured they avoid the ignominy of failing to get on the board.

“I don’t think anybody had anything left in the tank when that 80 minutes was up,” Canada captain Tyler Ardron said.

“We gave it everything we could. All credit to Italy – they exposed us when they had their chances and we didn’t finish them off when we had ours.”

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