Italy ran in nine tries to hammer Russia 53-17 in a rather one-sided World Cup Pool C encounter in Nelson on Tuesday.
Italy ran in nine tries to hammer Russia 53-17 in a rather one-sided World Cup Pool C encounter at Trafalgar Park in Nelson on Tuesday.
The result means Italy move level with Australia on five points in a pool that could have a massive impact on the make up of the play-offs.
The Russian scrum was moving in reverse as soon as the ref said 'engage', meaning the Italian backs had plenty of quality first-phase ball to work with – and they used to deadly effect.
The World Cup newcomers put on a gallant display against the USA last week but were simply outclassed by a more experienced, more clinical side.
It wasn't all bad news for the Russians, who scored three good tries – their first in World Cup competition – in an entertaining game.
Six first-half tries gave Italy a 38-7 lead at the break with wing Giulio Toniolatti grabbing two and referee Wayne Barnes awarding a penalty try against the Russian scrum.
Centre Tommaso Benvenuti added his second after the restart as Nick Mallett's side touched down three more times to break to the 50-point barrier in a more evenly-contested second half.
It took just six minutes for Italy to open the scoring as skipper Sergio Parisse crossed at the end of a flowing move.
It was one-way traffic for most of the rest of the half with Toniolatti, Benvenuti and scrum-half Edoardo Gori following their captain's example.
Russia did manage to sneak a try, with scrum-half Alexander Yanyushkin striking with a sniping run immediately after Italy were reduced to fourteen when hooker Fabio Ongaro saw yellow for a late tackle.
It was much the same for Italy at the start of the second half as wing Luke McLean and replacement flank Alessandro Zanni drove the Azzurri's advantage home.
But Russia finished strongly as they chased a four-try bonus point. It wasn't to be, but well-taken tries from wing Vladimir Ostroushko and centre Alexey Makovetskiy were just reward for the Bears' hard work.
Man of the match: He only played 56 minutes before being pulled off and wrapped in cotton wool, but Sergio Parisse was phenomenal, scoring one try and having a hand in creating three more. Pure class. A mention too for his opposite number, Victor Gresev, who worked tirelessly.
Moment of the match: Parisse's try had the Bears on the ropes and Giulio Toniolatti's first try gave the Italians a healthy lead. Not only was it a wonderful try to watch, but it effectively ended any suspends regarding the result.
Villain of the match: No bad guys tonight.
Tries: Parisse, Toniolatti 2, Benvenuti 2, penalty try, Gori, McLean, Zanni
Cons: Bocchino 4
Tries: Yanyushkin, Ostroushko, Makovetskiy
Yellow card: Ongaro (Italy – 32nd min – late tackle)
Italy: 15 Andrea Masi, 14 Giulio Toniolatti, 13 Tommaso Benvenuti, 12 Matteo Pratichetti, 11 Luke McLean, 10 Riccardo Bocchino, 9 Edoardo Gori, 8 Sergio Parisse (capt), 7 Mauro Bergamasco, 6 Paul Derbyshire, 5 Marco Bortolami, 4 Quintin Geldenhuys, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Fabio Ongaro, 1 Salvatore Perugini.
Replacements: 16 Tommaso D'Apice, 17 Martin Castrogiovanni, 18 Cornelius van Zyl, 19 Alessandro Zanni, 20 Pablo Canavosio, 21 Luciano Orquera, 22 Alberto Sgarbi.
Russia: 15 Igor Klyuchnikov, 14 Vasily Artemyev, 13 Andrey Kuzin, 12 Alexey Makovetskiy, 11 Vladimir Ostroushko, 10 Konstantin Rachkov, 9 Alexander Shakirov, 8 Victor Gresev , 7 Andrey Garbuzov, 6 Vyacheslav Grachev , 5 Adam Byrnes, 4 Alexander Voytov, 3 Ivan Prishchepenko, 2 Vladislav Korshunov (c), 1 Vladimir Botvinnikov
Replacements: 16 Valery Tsnobiladze, 17 Alexander Khrokin, 18 Denis Antonov, 19 Artem Fatakhov, 20 Alexander Yanyushkin, 21 Mikhail Sidorov, 22 Yury Kushnarev.
Venue: Trafalgar Park, Nelson
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant referees: Steve Walsh, Chris Pollock
TMO: Shaun Veldsman