Italy secured a four-try 27-10 victory over the USA in Nelson in a result that means Pool C will go right down to the wire on Sunday.
Italy secured a four-try 27-10 win over the USA at Trafalgar Park on Tuesday in a result that means Pool C will go right down to the wire on Sunday.
The five-point success sees the Azzurri go level on points with the Wallabies – who play Russia on Saturday – and just three behind Ireland.
It wasn't pretty from the Italians but they will not be losing sleep over that as it was a case of mission accomplished before they go down to Dunedin.
Captain and number eight Sergio Parisse opened the scoring after being handed a lovely offload from lock Cornelius van Zyl while further scores from Luciano Orquera, Martin Castrogiovanni and a penalty try saw them pick up a maximum haul.
The Eagles looked to have been offering stiff competition when Chris Wyles claimed ten points via a try, conversion and penalty inside the first half-hour, but the power of Italy eventually told as the States ended the 2011 Rugby World Cup with a solitary win.
On the back of Parisse's slick score, Tommaso Benvenuti almost got over on the right wing but failed to hang on after good defensive scrambling. And it was then the turn of the Eagles, who levelled after good initial line-breaking work from Paul Emerick seeing Wyles go in for a converted score.
Bergamasco and Wyles traded penalties in the next 10 minutes for the teams to remain locked together. But Orquera sliced through from close range for a 15-10 lead in the 30th minute after some adept mauling and pick-and-go work from his forwards.
Castrogiovanni was held up over the line not long before the break, but the bearded prop wasn't to be denied on the stroke of half-time. He ensured Italy's sustained pressure on the Eagles' line was rewarded by powering over to give his team a ten-point (20-10) half-time lead.
Italy couldn't make their considerable possession and territory advantage count as time slipped away after the break and the pressure mounted for the all-important fourth try.
America's blindside flanker Louis Stanfill was sin-binned for one scrummaging infringement too many, and still the Eagles held firm.
It couldn't last. One scrum too many went down, and referee George Clancy ran under the posts to signal the penalty try in the 66th minute that relieved the tension in Italy's camp.
Man of the match: USA centre Paul Emerick was impressive every time he touched the ball while Sergio Parisse was his usual destructive self. However, for his scrummaging and try-scoring effort we go with Martin Castrogiovanni. His clash with Cian Healy should be epic.
Moment of the match: Italy needed that bonus-point try and when it came on 66 minutes – via a penalty try – one could see the relief all around. Job done, mission accomplished.
Villain of the match: Another clean game at World Cup 2011.
Tries: Parisse, Orquera, Castrogiovanni, Penalty
Con: Bergamasco 2
Italy: 15 Luke McLean, 14 Tommaso Benvenuti, 13 Gonzalo Canale, 12 Gonzalo Garcia, 11 Mirco Bergamasco, 10 Luciano Orquera, 9 Fabio Semenzato, 8 Sergio Parisse (c), 7 Mauro Bergamasco, 6 Alessandro Zanni, 5 Cornelius van Zyl, 4 Quintin Geldenhuys, 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Salvatore Perugini.
Replacements: 16 Fabio Ongaro, 17 Andrea Lo Cicero, 18 Marco Bortolami, 19 Paul Derbyshire, 20 Edoardo Gori, 21 Riccardo Bocchino, 22 Giulio Toniolatti.
USA: 15 Chris Wyles, 14 Takudzwa Ngwenya, 13 Paul Emerick, 12 Andrew Suniula, 11 James Paterson, 10 Roland Suniula, 9 Mike Petri, 8 Nic Johnson, 7 Todd Clever (c), 6 Louis Stanfill, 5 Hayden Smith, 4 John van der Giessen, 3 Matekitonga Moeakiola, 2 Chris Biller, 1 Mike MacDonald.
Replacements: 16 Phil Thiel, 17 Shawn Pittman, 18 Scott LaValla, 19 Pat Danahy, 20 Tim Usasz, 21 Nese Malifa, 22 Blaine Scully.
Referee: George Clancy (IRE)