Namibia fought tooth and nail but experience told in the end as Italy sealed a rain-marred 47-23 Pool B game at Hanazono Rugby Stadium on Sunday.
Italy crossed for seven tries but Namibia won over new fans with their never-say-die approach in testing conditions to finish with three of their own.
For Italy, with just one win in their last 11 Tests, it was a case of trying to get their tournament off to a flyer and restore some much needed confidence. They won their warm-up 85-15 against Russia on 17 August and also their last RWC game against Romania 32-22 four years ago.
But it was Namibia who got off to a brilliant start, Chad Plato finding space out wide to find Darryl De La Harpe, who then sent scrum-half Damien Stevens, pictured diving over for the try. Fly-half Cliven Loubser converted and the outsiders were 7-0 ahead.As expected, Italy then began opening up Namibia out wide and it took some scrambling defence to keep them from quickly extending their lead.
Only a great cover tackle pulled down fly-half Tommaso Allan within sight of the line and his pass under pressure was not good enough for full-back Jayden Hayward to snap up with a try beckoning.
Italy were really laying down the law but mistakes cost them at the death.
In the 22nd minute, Namibia superbly forced the error from a scrum with Italy bearing down on their line to again avert another dangerous situation.
The second Italy try came in stunning fashion with Allan finishing off under the posts after a slick movement that figured Luca Morisi. Allan converted and Italy were 14-7 ahead and feeling a lot more comfortable as the Namibians – still looking for their first victory in a World Cup – desperately tried to stay in contention.
After the half-time siren had sounded, Italy still had a lineout to complete and extended their lead when Tito Tebaldi found space down the left from just outside the 22. Allan converted and they went into the break leading 21-7.
Three minutes into the second half, Edoardo Padovani extended the lead after collecting a well-directed grubber-kick, which was converted by Allan.
Carlo Canna had only been on the field a minute when he crossed soon after, though it had to be confirmed by the TMO. Canna converted and Italy were 35-7 ahead.
To their credit, Namibia never gave up and they got on the board again with a 50th-minute penalty from Loubser and then sealed a well-earned try that was worked from the base of a scrum, with winger JC Greyling finishing off.
With 10 minutes left, Italy were over again from a set piece try from a lineout, through Jake Poledri taking the plaudits this time to take the lead to 40-15.
The Italians’ seventh try came through replacement back Matteo Minozzi, but Namibia had the last laugh, Plato capping a super display when he broke through the defence 30 metres out to post their third try in fine style.
-Story derived from RugbyWorldCup.com