Fiji and Japan vow to cut down error rate
- (Rugby News Service) Wednesday 12 September 2007
Tonga's 10-point win over USA was built on strength and patience as they chalked up their first world cup win since 1999.
Who me?: Nicky Little was unaware he'd reached a milestone
TOULOUSE, 13 September - Japan and Fiji admit they have plenty of work to do following their thrilling IRB Rugby World Cup match in Toulouse on Wednesday.
Despite posting a 35-31 victory, Fiji made too many errors and backs coach Shannon Fraser conceded they appeared nervous in their opening match.
Perspiration not inspiration key for Italy
Man of the match: Ramiro Pez
MARSEILLE, 12 September - Italy's forward pack was the key to winning their first IRB Rugby World Cup 2007 match, when they defeated Romania 24-18 at the Stade Velodrome, Marseille on Wednesday.
A Santiago Dellapè try and a David Bortolussi penalty put Italy 8-0 ahead at half time and despite Romania's Alexandru Manta and Marius Tincu scoring a try a piece, a converted penalty try and three penalties by man of the match Ramiro Pez gave Italy the win.
In a an error-strewn match, Italy's pack had the edge over their opponents, forcing mistakes which meant the Azzurri
were able to keep them at bay.
The Italy captain and second row Marco Bortolami was the driving force behind his forward's efforts and was pleased with their showing.
"Our scrum was outstanding and it was one of the keys for our victory," he said.
Prop Andrea Lo Cicero agreed.
"We have a good scrum, an excellent scrum and we had to show that today. I thought we did so."
The reintroduction of fly half Pez by Italy coach Pierre Berbizier was a masterstroke and the 28-year-old, who was making his cup debut, rewarded his faith by turning in a man of the match performance.
Following a nervy display as kicker by full back David Bortolussi, who missed three penalties and a conversion, Pez took on the kicking duties in the second half and finished the match with three penalties and a conversion.
Pez said to win after their opening match defeat to New Zealand was important.
"We had lost our confidence after losing so heavily against New Zealand, but from now on, we can build it up again," he said.
Romania were still in contention until the 52nd minute, when flanker Manta was sent to the sin-bin for killing the ball. In his absence, Italy scored 10 points.
Centre Romeo Gontineac, who was making his 11th world cup appearance in his fourth tournament, said it was a turning point.
"They played with the wind and profited by our mistake. It is very hard to play at this level with 14 v 15, especially in the forwards."
Of some concern for Italy was seeing their scrum half Paul Griffen stretchered off with his neck in a brace. Thankfully, he was later able to return to the reserves bench.
Replacement scrum half Alessandro Troncon, who won his 99th cap on the night, had only one thing on his mind when he took the field despite his team mate lying prone.
"I just thought 'I have to replace him and give my best to win the match,'" he said.