Taking one for the team and working the graveyard shift, a report from your Tasweigian correspondent.
Good news. This game does not involve the goddamn awful Soap Dodgers so I’m able to offer a totally neutral and unbiased view.
On paper at least, this looks like a decent match up. Both teams have played a game each with varying success. The Italians had a comfortable win against Namibia and look pretty sharp. They have some dangerous runners in their backs and a solid pack of forwards. The French may have made wholesale changes to their team but Uruguay caused them all sorts of problems before going down 27-12. With Pool A pretty much decided you’d think that not a lot was at stake but think again. National pride apart, the third place in the pool is guaranteed an automatic spot in RWC 2027, so it’s all to play for. No prediction on the score, it could go either way. It’s game on.
Uruguay have made two changes to the team that went down to France at Lille with Kessler coming in at hooker and Mieres onto the wing. In anticipation of a tough game and in a move that shows respect to the opposition Italy have decided against mass rotations and have only made four changes to the starting XV.
ITALY 15 Ange Capuozzo; 14 Lorenzo Pani, 13 Juan Ignacio Brex, 12 Paolo Garbisi, 11 Montanna Ioane; 10 Tommaso Allan, 9 Alessandro Garbisi; 1 Danilo Fischetti, 2 Giacomo Nicotera, 3 Marco Riccioni, 4 Niccolo Cannone, 5 Federico Ruzza; 6 Sebastian Negri, 7 Michele Lamaro (captain), 8 Lorenzo Cannone
Replacements : 16 Luca Bigi, 17 Federico Zani, 18 Pietro Ceccarelli, 19 Dino Lamb, 20 Manuel Zuliani, 21 Giovanni Pettinelli, 22 Alessandro Fusco, 23 Paolo Odogwu
URUGUAY 15 Baltazar Amaya; 14 Gaston Mieres, 13 Tomas Inciarte, 12 Andres Vilaseca (captain), 11 Nicolas Freitas; 10 Felipe Etcheverry, 9 Santiago Arata, 1 Mateo Sanguinetti, 2 German Kessler, 3 Ignacio Peculo, 4 Felipe Aliaga, 5 Manuel Leindekar, 6 Manuel Ardao, 7Santiago Civetta, 8 Manuel Diana
Replacements 16 Guillermo Pujadas, 17 Facundo Gattas, 18 Diego Arbelo, 19 Ignacio Dotti, 20 Carlos Deus, 21 Agustin Ormaechea, 22 Felipe Berchesi, 23 Bautista Basso
A heavy cloudburst before the match led to slippery conditions and Italy made their intentions clear running the ball out of the 22 early on. They had the Uruguay scrum under a lot of pressure but the Uruguay back row with Ardao prominent were winning the breakdown battle with multiple turnovers. Etcheverry missed a couple of shots at goal but it was the Italians who scored first. A Capuozzo kick ahead eventually led to a 5 m scrum in the Uruguay red zone and after a few phases Pani twisted over for a converted try. Italy’s eagerness to run from deep cost them when Etcheverry intercepted a pass and took the ball into the Italian 22. The Uruguay pack pounded the line with multiple pick and drives and Angus Gardner eventually had enough penalising an Italian prop with a yellow card and awarding a penalty try. Worse was to follow with Uruguay again pressing hard at the Italian line. It was Niccolo Cannone when earned Gus’s wrath this time and Italy were down to 13 men. More carries set up play close to the Italian line that allowed space for an offload for winger De Freitas to go over in the corner. Etcheverry made the difficult conversion and rubbed further salt into the Italian wounds by slotting a drop goal on the stroke of half time. Uruguay went to the sheds with a well deserved 17-7 lead. Was an upset on the cards?
I don’t know what was said in the sheds but Italy came out in the second half a different team. They got the boost they needed when the Uruguay skipper was sent to the naughty chair for 10 mins for a shoulder hit. In that short space of time Italy ran in two converted tries. First up its Italian skipper Lamaro who crashes over for a converted try following some very good attacking with ball in hand from the Italian backs. Italy then moved ahead when Monty Ioane (nephew of Digby) comes in off his wing, slices through the Uruguay defence and goes over under the posts. Italy are now in a bit of a purple patch. More good running from their backs ends with Lorenzo Cannone going over and with another perfect conversion from Allan, they start to pull away. As Uruguay tire and more gaps appear Brex goes over for a fifth try with Allan converts. To their credit Uruguay still try to run it at the Italians but are pretty much out on the feet and handling errors occur with more regularity. They give away a final penalty which Garbisi slots and the final score is 38-17.
An upset was on the cards at HT but Italy came out a different team. Two scores while Uruguay were a man down was the turning point.
Man of the Match
Tommaso Allan pulled all the strings in the second half and had a perfect day with the boot. However, Uruguay flanker Manuel Ardeo is my MOTM. He put in a massive shift winning 5 turnovers and he’s my MOTM.
Another great performance from Uruguay against the more fancied Italians. They asked questions, forced mistakes from an Italian side that didn’t come up with the goods in the first half. It was noticeable how they tired in the second half but the future look bright. A decent performance again the ABs and a win against Namibia would be a fitting end to their tournament. Italy despite a very rocky start didn’t panic and eventually wore the Uruguayan team down with precise tactical kicking, powerful carrying and a willingness in the second half at least to run the ball. Sterner tests await them.