Good Morning G&GRs, Reds and Wallabies Fan here, helping out as a guest writer for the World Cup.
Welcome to the match review for Italy v Namibia, which was the second game of Rugby World Cup 2023, played at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, Saint-Étienne in the afternoon sun.
These teams have more history than I expected, and in the four previous encounters, the honours were split 2 each, including Namibia winning a home series against Italy in 1991.
Italy entered the game as favourites as the 13th ranked team, compared to Namibia in 21st place, and with some good recent form having beaten Australian for the first time in 2022, and dishing up Japan in the warm-up games. Italy needed to win this game to keep their dream of qualifying for the quarter finals alive.
Namibia have been to the world cup six times and are yet to record a win in the tournament, but they did push Ireland in 2007, and lost by a single point to Georgia in 2015. Their match against Canada in 2019 was abandoned due to Typhoon Hagibis.
Namibia has an Australian connection, with Richard Hardwick lining up at Number 8.
Both teams had everything to play for in the heat at Saint-Étienne, it was 32 degrees at kick off.
Italy went into half time with a 17 points to 8 lead courtesy of two tries and a penalty.
It wasn’t all one way traffic though, Namibia really turned up to test the Italians, with a yellow card to the Namibian hooker Torsten van Jaarsveld being the key difference between the two teams. In his absence Italy scored two tries, one from a rolling maul, the second from an overthrown Namibian lineout allowing Paolo Garbisi to run 30 metres to the line.
Both teams tried to play attacking rugby throughout the first half despite the heat, and Namibia’s sole try for the match was well earned in the corner.
Both teams continued to run the ball and attack in the second half, and it was pretty even until 70 minutes with Italy scoring two tries, one from a maul, and one spectacular try to Capuozza in the left hand corner after they exposed the wide defence of Namibia from within their own half.
Capuozza scoring after a 60 metre movement in the second half. Source, Screen capture from tv coverage.
Namibia did have chances in the second half, and spent the best part of ten minutes attacking the Italian line, before another handling error let Italy off the hook with 10 minutes left to play. It was 31-8 to Italy at that stage, and then the game really opened up. Italy, actually both teams, really threw the ball around in the last 10 minutes and Italy scored three late tries showing some great skills, pace, and willingness to keep running and supporting each other.
Ultimately, the score line of 52-8 flattered the Italians a bit, and it was great to see a much improved Namibia play an entertaining game of rugby.
The Game Changer
In the first half, the yellow card to the Namibian hooker left them short for the first try and had the number 8 overthrowing the lineout for an Italian try.
In the second half, it was the fitness and polish of the Italians to run away with late tries.
The Man of the Match/Standout Player
I have to agree with Joel Stransky on the man of the match, Lorenzo Cannone was very good for the Italians.
Plenty to like about the Namibian team, including the flyhalf Swanepoel, who looked composed and has a monster kick.