Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 5th 2015 Contents LONDON---Sergio Parisse returned
from injury to inspire his Italian
squad to its best performance so far
in the Rugby World Cup, a narrow
loss to Six Nations champion Ire-
The Italians were hoping for an
upset at the Olympic Stadium on Sun-
day, but in the wash-up the result
amounted to a pair of regular occur-
rences: A gutsy showing, guided by
Parisse at No. 8, and another pool-
"It was a missed opportunity of
course," Italy coach Jacques Brunel
said, reflecting on a missed try and a
failure to convert pressure into points
in a 16-9 loss. "We have the ability
to challenge teams and we would like
to be a main player in a match. We
would like to prove we can play at this
level, and that it is not a fluke."
Italy has been to every Rugby World
Cup, but has never advanced beyond
the pool stage. After opening with a
32-10 loss to three-time finalist France,
Italy struggled at times before holding
off Canada 23-18 at Leeds. That meant
the Italians needed to win their last
two games to stay in quarterfinal con-
tention from a pool containing half
of the countries that form the Six
The 32-year-old Parisse added
experience, skill and passion to the
Italian pack against Ireland, finally
appearing at his fourth World Cup
and lifting his tally of test caps to 115.
"It s true that his presence, his lead-
ership of the squad, his technique,
add something to the squad," Brunel
said. "We saw it today. Even if he is
not at 100 percent, the impact that
he has on the squad is truly positive."
His influence wasn t enough,
though, for Italy to repeat its upset
win over the Irish in 2013, the same
year Parisse led his team to an opening
win over France in the Six Nations,
but his return did boost morale.
"Today, collectively, it was a very,
very good match, even if we lost,"
Parisse said. "The world was expecting
a big defeat. The entire world expected
Ireland to roll over us and win by 50
points but the team answered really,
really well in a positive way."
Italy s last match of the tournament
will be against Romania at Exeter next
Sunday, the last day of the pool round.
Brunel expects his squad to finish on
a positive note.
"We lost and that is the reality of
things," he said. "We will look and
analyze our performance at the end
of the World Cup. I hope we will end
our tournament well in regards to the
attitude of the team --- I want to see
a team that has pride to finish well.
closer to a place in the Rugby
World Cup quarterfinals with fly-
half Nicolas Sanchez 25 points in
a comprehensive 45-16 win over
Tonga in their Pool C match yes-
Argentina scored five tries to get
a bonus point that should be
enough to seal a place in the last
eight, unless the Pumas lose to
Namibia, and Tonga gets an unlike-
ly win with a bonus point against
tournament favorite New Zealand
in their last games.
The crowd of 29,124 at Leices-
ter s City Stadium included football
great Diego Maradona, and he
turned into the No. 1 cheerleader.
Maradona, who made Argenti-
na s No. 10 shirt so famous, did
high-fives with people around him
and jumped up and down at every
try.It was another No. 10, Sanchez,
who ran the show for the Pumas,
and he became the tournament s
leading scorer with 51 points so far.
"Nicolas had a very good game,
he s got a great foot," Pumas coach
Daniel Hourcade said through a
translator. "He did what we expect
Argentina s other tries came from
fullback Joaquin Tuculet, wingers
Juan Imhoff and Santiago Cordero,
and replacement hooker Julian
By the time Cordero barged his
way over for the fifth try, Maradona
was shouting and thrusting his
blue-and-white scarf around his
After the match, he paid a visit
to the Argentina dressing room and
joined in the celebrations.
"We didn t know he would be
here watching us. He took some
of our shirts, gave us one of his
shirts as well," Argentina s captain
and hooker Agustin Creevy said.
"He gave us a speech. He said: The
whole of Argentina is with us. We
danced and we played a song, it
was beautiful and something dif-
ferent for us."
Maradona was a fine finisher in
his time, scoring one of football s
best ever goals against England at
the 1986 soccer World Cup.
Argentina s rugby team contains
some decent finishers, too.
Imhoff and Cordero earlier
scored two tries each in the 54-
9 win against Georgia, and their
pace and elusive running make
them a threat for any defense in
Still, Hourcade was frustrated
by his side s performance at times.
"Our defense was not as good
as it has been," he said. "There
was a lack of coordination at times
in the scrum, we have players who
need to get used to the way we
Flyhalf Kurt Morath and fron-
trower Soane Tonga uiha got the
tries for Tonga, which led 5-0 early
and created numerous scoring
Morath took his try well but his
kicking let him down, particularly
early in the second half when he
missed two kicks that could have
added serious pressure to the
He also failed to convert both
Tonga recycled quickly and this
almost led to a second try from
scrumhalf Sonatane Takulua, but
the ball slipped from his hands
near the left corner. A booming
kick from Sanchez some 45 meters
got Argentina going and prop
Ramiro Herrera bulldozed down
the left and set up Tuculet for the
first try. The second try was even
better, Cordero ripping through
Tonga s midfield before offloading
to give Inhoff.
The flyhalves swapped penalties
after the restart before Morath
missed relatively routine penalty
attempts from the right and the
"We missed five kicks today and
our team is one that strives on
confidence," Tonga captain Nili
Latu said. "We let ourselves down
with our ball control and disci-
Sanchez dummied and scooted
over the line to put the game
beyond Tonga with 15 minutes left,
leaving time for two more tries.
This performance has given
Maradona an appetite for more.
"He said if we reach the semi-
finals he will be there," Creevy
said, smiling. "He s set us a very
high goal and we hope he ll be
able to come again."
• Twitter: @GuardianTT • Web: guardian.co.tt
MILTON KEYNES---Winger Nemani
Nadolo will return from a one-match sus-
pension to line up for Fiji in its Rugby
World Cup closer against Uruguay to-
morrow at Stadium MK.
Nadolo, a star for the Crusaders in
Super Rugby, was tipped to be one of the
breakout stars in this World Cup, but it
has been a struggle for Fiji to get him the
He was one of five changes made by
Fiji yesterday to the lineup which fell to
Wales 23-13 last Thursday.
There were two changes in the for-
wards, where Api Ratuniyarawa replaced
Tevita Cavubati at lock, and Sakiusa
Matadigo was preferred at No. 8 to Ne-
Kini Murimurivalu comes in at fullback
for Metuisela Talebula.
Manasa Saulo, the starting tighthead
against Wales, was not available after
receiving a 10-week ban from that game
for stamping on the head of lock Luke
Charteris. Uruguay represents Fiji's last
chance to win a match in Pool A, after
critically praised losses to England, Aus-
tralia, and Wales.
Nadolo returns from ban for Fiji's bow
Ireland's Tommy Bowe tackles Italy's captain Sergio Parisse during the Rugby World Cup Pool D match between
Ireland and Italy at the Olympic Stadium, London, yesterday. AP PHOTO
closer to quarters
...still not enough to go past pool stage
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