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At 5th Rugby World Cup, Parisse leads Italy to a win over Namibia

Players from Italy, left, and Namibia form a scrum during the first half of a Rugby World Cup Pool B match in Higashiosaka, western Japan, on Sept. 22, 2019. (Kyodo)

OSAKA, Japan (AP) -- Sergio Parisse started his fifth Rugby World Cup by guiding Italy to a 47-22 win over Namibia on Sunday, and going oh-so-close to celebrating the milestone with a try.

    The veteran backrower was denied a five-pointer when his forward pack was awarded a penalty try, then when he lost the ball in a tackle, and when he was called back by the referee after diving over from the base of a five-yard scrum. And from the very next movement, he picked up from the base of a scrum and crashed into the referee Nick Berry -- the Australian official who may claim he deserves to be credited with a tackle on the statistics sheets.

    The Italians conceded a try in the sixth minute to Namibia scrumhalf Damian Stevens against the run of play and wasted three good scoring chances but recovered to post three tries for a 21-7 lead before halftime.

    Italy fullback Jayden Hayward was unable to gather a low pass from Tommaso Allan with the tryline open. Allan made amends when he burst onto a pass and crashed off the upright to score under the posts after a swerving, surging run from center Luca Morisi in the 26th.

    Scrumhalf Tito Tebaldi darted down the left flank and dived over after receiving an improbable no-look pass from lock Federico Ruzza right on halftime.

    The bonus point was secured four minutes after halftime when winger Edoardo Padovani ran onto Morisi's angled grubber kick to the left corner and the result was beyond doubt in the 47th when replacement Carlo Canna reached over to score and converted to make it 35-7.

    Starting flyhalf Tommaso Allan finished with 11 points from a try and three conversions for Italy before he was replaced early in the second half.

    It rained heavily during halftime, making the ball slippery and reducing the opportunities for attack in the second half, but the weather cleared later in the game.

    The Namibians finished strongly, reducing the margin to 35-15 with a penalty goal to Cliven Loubser and a well-worked backline move from a set piece that resulted in JC Greyling scoring untouched in the 57th.

    Jake Polledri and Matteo Minozzi added the sixth and seventh tries for Italy before right winger Chad Plato sprinted 40 meters for a crowd-pleasing consolation try for Namibia just before fulltime.

    While it was a positive start to the tournament, it extended an unwanted record for Namibia, which has now played 20 games at the Rugby World Cup without recording a win.

    The Namibians will play South Africa at Toyota next Saturday, while Italy has a shorter turnaround before taking on Canada at Fukuoka on Thursday.

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