Mon, Oct 16, 2006 - Page 18 News List

Italy hammers Russia, qualifies for World Cup

AFP , MOSCOW

Italy mercilessly thrashed Russia 67-7 here on Saturday to ensure their place at the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France.

A comfortable nine-try victory for the Azzurri came a week after their 83-0 thrashing of Portugal and left them as overall winners of the three-team Europe zone Pool A.

New Zealand-born Kaine Robertson, Mirco Bergamasco and Pablo Canavosio all scored two tries each, while Martin Castrogiovanni, Gonzalo Canale and captain Marco Bortolami grabbed one apiece.

Full-back David Bortolussi contributed 22 points with his kicking.

Comeback

Russia, ranked 18th in the world, six places behind Italy, saved their best rugby for the closing stages and were rewarded with a late try from Alexander Khrokin -- Victor Motorin slotted the conversion.

Italy coach Pierre Berbizier was delighted to see his team secure qualification without any hitches.

"I really liked the manner in which we approached the game, especially in the first half," the former France international told Italy's Sky Sports.

"It was a bit similar to the Portugal game in that we relaxed a little in the second half, but that happens sometimes when you know the match is won," he said.

Asked if his team could be one of the surprise packages at the World Cup, Berbizier replied: "We have a young team that is growing all the time, but we feel that we can compete with any team in the world."

tests

"We have Tests against Australia and Argentina in November and those games will help us gauge where we are," he said.

Italy, who will play in Group C at the World Cup alongside New Zealand and Scotland, were forced to take part in the qualifying rounds because of their failure to reach the quarter-finals of the 2003 tournament in Australia.

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