Canada 18 – 23 Italy
My goodness the Canucks played well.
You would not have thought they had it in them after their opening 7-50 loss to Ireland. But their coach, former All Black Keiran Crowley, was cunning enough to target the right match.
Down 10-13 at half-time, Canada dominated possession and territory in the second half. A lovely try down the left was very nearly followed by a lovely try down the right, only to be called back for the last pass drifting forward. The Italians scored a breakout try, and then sealed it with a penalty after the hooter, but they were vulnerable all the way,
The Canadians have benefitted hugely not just from the World Cup qualifiiers but also the World Sevens series. The skills and fitness are top-notch, and the reading of the game is accurate and mature. Most impressively, they stayed in the game all the way to the 81 minute mark, and their substitutions lifted rather than detracted.
The Italians have simply not progressed in the last few years. Ten years? Twenty years? Staying still is going backwards. Yes, they absorbed a huge amount of pressure, and they were able to score points against the run of play, but their inability to own a match is the problem.
In pool matches, it’s Go Big or Go Home.