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Grounds for concern as ruthless Italy cruise it

Italy 48-7 Canada

Conor O'Shea
Conor O'Shea
Jonathan Bradley

By Jonathan Bradley

Italy coach Conor O'Shea admitted the Hakatanomori Stadium surface made it difficult at scrum time in his side's 48-7 World Cup victory over Canada but added that there was no further concern for player safety.

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Ireland will play Samoa at the same venue on October 12 and the pitch looked to have cut up badly during the contest.

The former Ireland full-back praised the general quality of the facilities in Japan but acknowledged the set-piece was affected in his side's second game win of the tournament.

"The pitches have been amazing," he said. "I think we knew yesterday, and Nigel (Owens, the referee) addressed it before the game, it happens in a lot of places, that scrums were going to be an issue.

"Our training pitch has been amazing, everything about it, but you could feel it in the bounce of the ball last night (at captain's run) and you could tell it was going to make things difficult.

"We knew there were going to be some issues but the only big one was the scrums."

Having now beaten both Namibia and Canada to begin their campaign, Italy have taken a maximum of ten points in their pool. Unfortunately for the Azzurri, their next two games are against the Springboks and then the All Blacks.

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"We'll see how we go in the next two matches," added O'Shea. "We've already qualified for the next World Cup, which is huge, it was a goal.

"Four years ago in England it was 23-18 when we played Canada and today it was a huge win for us. Compared to that you can see this was a great victory and we have shown great progression."

Les Rouges featured Dungannon native Peter Nelson at out-half, the former Ulster player having made his debut during the summer after qualifying through his Toronto-born grandmother.

Despite getting steamrollered for Italy's first try, he was impressive from there on and created Canada's sole try with a fine linebreak late on.

"He grew as the game went on," said his coach Kingsley Jones. "He's a really good footballer, he created the last try. What was pleasing was he took the game by the scruff of the neck.

"Pete really fronted and we're really pleased with the way he's progressing."

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