Manuela Furlan’s first game as Italy captain ended in a convincing 38-0 win over Scotland, a victory that boosts the Azzurre’s rating by just over a third of a point to 75.21 points.
Scotland went into the game knowing that an historic high of seventh in the World Rugby Women's Rankings was within their reach if they won well in Calvisano, but those hopes were dealt a huge blow inside the first 10 minutes as Italy raced into a 19-0 lead.
Player of the match Michela Sillari got the scoring underway in the fifth minute with the first of her three tries in the match and she then went on to convert scores from second-row duo Gioradana Duca and Valentina Ruzza.
Captain Lisa Thomson and Lauren Harris both went close for Scotland, but the Italy defence held firm and they increased their lead by half-time to 26-0 when flanker Ilaria Arrighetti crossed for their fourth try which Sillari improved.
Sillari rounded off a magnificent personal display by adding two more tries to her tally, in the 52nd and 70th minutes, as Italy recorded their biggest win over Scotland in four-and-a-half years and their second best of all time.
Italy still have some ground to make up on Australia in the rankings, though, the 0.36 of a point only reducing the gap between themselves and the Wallaroos in sixth to 3.47 points. Scotland stay in 11th place but with a marginally reduced rating of 69.89.
Black Ferns keep rolling on
New Zealand remain well clear at the top of the rankings, on 95.66 points, with second-ranked England still some 4.23 points adrift.
The world champion Black Ferns were unable to improve their lead despite beating the USA Women’s Eagles 67-6 at Soldier Field in Chicago as no rating points were awarded for the win given the 16.25 point difference between the nations.
Playing in their first test since Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017, the USA Women’s Eagles, who named 13 debutants in their match-day squad, felt the full force of the world champions' driving maul.
Three first-half tries were scored by this method in the first half – through tight-head prop Aldora Itunu, second-row Eloise Blackwell and captain Fiao’o Faamausili, a nominee for World Rugby Women’s Player of the Year – and centre Chelsea Alley also added her name to the scoresheet as the Black Ferns established a 26-6 half-time lead. The home side’s only points came from two Kimber Rozier penalties.
A slicker second-half performance in attack yielded seven more tries, Renee Wickliffe crossing twice in the third quarter with a try from Selica Winiata sandwiched in between.
Kendra Cocksedge was next to cross the try-line before Stacey Waaka got in on the act with her team’s ninth try after 69 minutes.
There was still time for Blackwell to get her second of the match and for Ayesha Leti-I'iga to translate her prolific try-scoring form for Wellington onto the international arena with the final score of the match.
Both teams now head to Europe with USA to meet England and New Zealand to tackle France.
There was one other women's international match over the weekend, but South Africa's 31-12 win over the UK Armed Forces in Richmond on Friday didn't count towards the rankings.
Aseza Hele and Alana-Lee Horne both scored two tries to add to a try by Nosiphiwo Goda, while Kirsten Conrad kicked two conversions and Zintle Mpupha one for the Springbok Women, who will face Wales at Cardiff Arms Park on Saturday.
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