OSAKA, 22 Sep – Luca Morisi has had a long four years waiting for the chance to make his Rugby World Cup debut. When he did, the centre made a huge impression during Italy’s 47-22 win over Namibia at Hanazono Rugby Stadium.
Morisi was forced to miss RWC 2015 after injuring his knee, having made some impressive appearances during the Six Nations that year.
Against Namibia the 28-year-old lined up at inside-centre and was a shining light during an insipid first half.
He made three clean line-breaks that left Namibia’s defence in peril. The first two failed to yield any points but, on the third, fly-half Tommaso Allan popped up on his shoulder to score Italy’s second try after Morisi had been hauled down near the line.
"Luca played a great match throughout," Italy captain Sergio Parisse said. "Like everyone he really wanted to show what he could do..
"It is good to see players who have come back from various injuries and really show what they can do, and he was really important for the team."
While Italy ended with a bonus-point win, they were caught out at times by Namibia’s determination to keep the ball in hand.
Full-back Johan Tromp did not hesitate to start moves from deep in his half and flankers Wian Conradie and Max Katjijeko led the charge at other times, along with number eight Janco Venter, who was a constant nuisance to Italy’s defence.
Namibia’s first try came early, when scrum-half Damian Stevens rounded off a flowing team move to open the scoring.
Phil Davies’s team stuck to their beliefs despite Italy taking control and were rewarded when wings JC Greyling and Chad Plato ran in tries after Namibia’s backline had unlocked Italy’s defence.
"I'm very proud of the players, the way we adapted to the speed of the game, some of the tries we scored and some of the resolute defence," Davies said.
"The effort, the commitment of the players and the way we tried to play was exciting, we just have to be a little bit more accurate to the ball the next time we play."
With Italy’s match against Canada only four days away, coach Conor O’Shea made use of his bench once Edoardo Padovani had secured the four-try bonus point.
of the offloads of the tournament so far and a huge work rate helped Federico Ruzza win the @Mastercard Player of the Match for #ITAvNAM #StartSomethingPriceless #POTM #RWC2019 pic.twitter.com/MXmtjhKoTs— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) September 22, 2019
Carlo Canna came on for Allan and duly scored Italy’s fifth try. Guglielmo Palazzani replaced scrum-half Tito Tebaldi, but captain Parisse stayed on for the duration as he began his fifth World Cup campaign.
"We can’t really change much over the next four days," O’Shea said. "We travel tomorrow afternoon and have a recovery session in the morning. We'll make changes because it is another tough match.
"We could have scored three or four more tries in the first-half with the opportunities we created.
"The points total doesn’t demonstrate our performance today. We want to play better on Thursday."