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Dublin: 9°C Tuesday 18 May 2021


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We stopped by Trafalgar Park, Nelson, this morning for the meeting between two of Ireland’s Pool C rivals, Italy and Russia.

Get in touch with your thoughts on Italy’s comprehensive victory — or on any of the other goings-on at the Rugby World Cup.

E-mail, tweet us @thescore_ie, or post to our Facebook wall.

Failing that, use the traditional route and leave a comment below.

FT: Italy 53-17 Russia

Let’s get rocking. It’s time for today’s glamour tie — by virtue of the fact that it’s today’s only tie: Italy v Russia.

I have the team sheets in my hand. Here goes nothing.

Italy: Masi; Toniolatti, Bevenuti,Pratichetti, McLean; Bocchino, Gori; Perugini, Ongaro, Cittadini; Geldenhuys, Bortolami; Derbyshire,Bergamasco, Parisse.

Russia: Klyuchnikov; Artemyev, Kuzin, Makovetskiy, Ostrushko; Rachkov, Shakirov; Botvinnikov, Korshunov, Prischepenko; Voytov, Byrnes; Grachev, Garbuzov, Gresev.

Most of those names will probably be misspelled repeatedly over the next 80 minutes. Apologies in advance.

MISSED PENALTY! (Bocchino, 2′) The Italian out-half has an early chance to kick Italy into the lead after Russia go into the ruck off their feet, but drags his penalty wide.

The Italians have started as though they really mean business, kicking their next penalty to the corner. If they can get a four-try bonus point here today, they’ll really boost their chances of qualifying for the quarter-finals.

TRY! (Parisse, 6′) The Azzurri get the reward for their early ambition. With numbers out wide, Parisse sells the defender a beautiful dummy and coasts through the gap to touch down under the posts. Bocchino adds the conversion. Italy 7-0 Russia

Toniolatti looks to have gone over in the corner, but referee Wayne Barnes needs to go upstairs to the TMO for confirmation.

TRY! (Toniolatti, 13′) It’s try time alright. The Russian defender had almost got one of Toniolatti’s feet into touch, but the replay shows that the ball was clearly grounded. Another flowing attacking move by Italy, capped by a beautiful reverse pop by Parisse which unlocked the defence.

Bocchino’s conversion misses to the left, so it’s Italy 12-0 Russia.

TRY! (Benvenuti, 15′) It’s raining tries in Nelson, and this one is gift-wrapped for the Italians. With full-back Klyuchnikov out of position, Italy kick into acres of space. Ostrushko is the first man back, but he dives over the ball rather than on to it and Benvenuti strolls across for one of the easiest tries he’s ever likely to score.

Bocchino is off-target with his conversion against — that’s one from four place kicks from the out-half so far. Italy 17-0 Russia

Should Ireland be worried about this? The Italians aren’t looking too shabby at all.

TRY! (Toniolatti, 22′) Well, that didn’t take long, did it? Twenty two minutes played and Italy already have their bonus point. It’s the winger Toniolatti again, with Bocchino adding the conversion.

Italy look like they could run in 10 tries tonight. Italy 24-0 Russia

PENALTY TRY! (28′) Italy have the Russian scrum under tremendous pressure yards from the line and when it inevitably crumbles, Wayne Barnes has little other option but to award the penalty try. Bocchino looks delighted with the chance to improve his kicking percentage and adds the extras. Italy 31-0 Russia

TRY! (Yanyushkin, 33′) Wonderful scenes as Russia score their first try of the evening — and, if my notes are correct, their first try ever at the Rugby World Cup. Is that right?

Italy are a man down up front after hooker Ongaro is sin-binned and Russia take full advantage. It’s substitute scrum-half Yanyushkin who claims the glory, sniping off the back of a ruck and darting inside Cittadini to force his way over.

Rachkov converts. Italy 31-7 Russia

TRY! (Gori, 37′) Another Italian try? Why not?

Inspired by the exploits of his opposite number, Eduardo Gori profits from some clever work by Pratichetti and McLean in midfield and dots down under the posts. Bocchino tacks on the conversion — he’s now four from seven. Italy 38-7 Russia

HALF TIME: Italy 38-7 Russia

Ok, time for me to catch my breath. I’m off for a quick bowl of porridge, but I’ll be back before you know it, so send in your thoughts and comments on Italy’s dominant first-half performance.

We’re back underway in Nelson. And for those of you who were wondering, yes, the porridge was excellent.

We’re going back upstairs again. Has Benvenuti scored?

TRY! (Benvenuti, 48′) He has. Wonderful work by the Italian forwards who pummel their way across the gain line time and again. The ball is eventually fired out wide to Benvenuti and the centre plays a grubber through the defensive line and dives after it to touch down. The grounding was finger-tip stuff, but there was definite downward pressure and Benvenuti has his second try of the evening. He tries the conversion himself, but drags it to the right. Italy 43-7 Russia

TRY! (Ostrushko, 50′) This is absolutely manic. Russia march straight back down the pitch where Ostrushko finds himself one on one with McLean out in the corner. The Russian winger eyeballs his man, jinks one way, goes the other and goes over in the corner. Wonderful finishing and that will make up for the mistake which he made in the first half. Rachkov has no joy with the conversion, and so it remains Italy 43-12 Russia.

With the game won, Italy have decided to make a few changes. Masi, Gori, Bortolami and Parisse all go off for a well-deserved rest.

TRY! (McLean, 65′) Easy peasy lemon squeezy for Luke McLean as he runs in Italy’s eighth try. He turns on the afterburners out on the left wing and zips through with very little difficulty. Benvenuti is still on kicking duties, but he misses his second conversion attempt of the morning.

I said ten tries earlier on — will Italy get there?

Italy 48-12 Russia

Here come Russia, desperately seeking their third try of the evening. Good pressure…

TRY! (Makovetskiy, 71′) Try time for Russia, and it’s no more than they deserve. Their relentless work inside the Italian 22 pays dividends as the ball is flung high into the Nelson night sky and out towards Makovetskiy who is totally unmarked on the left wing. Russia could get their very own bonus point here with one more try.

The ball falls off the tee as Rachkov lines up his conversion attempt, so he picks it up and has a pop Rugby Sevens style. He still misses though. Italy 48-17 Russia

TRY! (Zanni, 77′) Italy’s ninth try isn’t exactly the Russian defence’s finest moment. The Italian scrum applies the pressure again and, as Zanni picks off the back, he swats off both Makovetskiy and Yanyushkin as if they’re made of straw. Unsurprisingly given the standard of kicking tonight, the conversion is missed. Italy 53- 17 Russia

FULL TIME: Italy 53-17 Russia

I’ll admit, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I sat down this morning, but that was a thoroughly entertaining game of rugby.

From the first whistle, Italy looked determined to get the four-try bonus point and had managed that with little more than 20 minutes played.

After that, the result was never really in doubt, but to the credit, Russia stuck to their task and went over for three tries of their own.

But what does it all mean for Ireland? Well, without taking anything for granted, we shouldn’t have too many problems against Russia on Sunday, particularly in light of their quick turnaround.

And Italy? Well, this wasn’t exactly Nick Mallett’s strongest side and though they often looked fragile in defence, you have to respect a team that scores nine tries, irrespective of who they come against.

Approach with caution.

That’s my lot for the moment, but we’ll have all the rest of the news from the Rugby World Cup as the day progresses. If you haven’t already done so, check out our RWC2011 microsite right here.

Thanks for stopping by.

About the author:

Niall Kelly