In a thrilling Pool A clash at Stade de Nice, Italy orchestrated a remarkable second-half comeback, scoring four tries to secure a 38-17 victory and shatter Uruguay’s hopes of a surprising upset.
Italy’s winger, Lorenzo Pani, initially put his team ahead, but a yellow card for second-row Niccolo Cannone allowed Uruguay to level the score with a penalty try, during which prop Danilo Fischetti also received a yellow card.
Uruguay seized the opportunity of a two-man advantage and sent wing Nicolas Freitas over the try line. Felipe Etcheverry added a drop goal to extend their lead to 17-7 at halftime, a lead that could have been greater had the fly-half not missed two early penalty attempts.
However, Italy mounted an incredible resurgence in the second half, scoring three tries in just 10 minutes courtesy of skipper Michele Lamaro, Montanna Ioane, and Lorenzo Cannone. The first two came after Andres Vilaseca received a yellow card. Juan Ignacio Brex added a fifth try, securing a bonus point and marking Italy’s second consecutive win.
Michele Lamaro, Italy’s captain and the Mastercard Player of the Match, expressed his delight at the hard-fought victory, particularly after a challenging first half for the Azzurri.
“This is a real group; we’re a family,” he remarked. “It was a really tough game. I told all the Uruguayan guys they can be proud of their performance. They put us under a lot of pressure, but in these moments, what counts the most is how strong the team is. In the second half, we showed that and gave it our all. I’m really proud of the boys, and I’ll cherish this moment with them for the rest of my life.”
Italy’s head coach, Kieran Crowley, acknowledged the untidy first-half display but praised his team’s response.
“Our discipline let us down; we had seven turnovers inside our own 40, and you can’t do that,” he admitted. “Uruguay put the pressure on us and made us pay. So we went in at half-time and said we needed to hold on to the ball, be direct. The boys did that really well and scored some good tries. It was pleasing in the end, but it was nerve-wracking earlier.”
Santiago Civetta, Uruguay’s flanker, revealed that his team, ranked 17th in the World Rugby rankings, had targeted this match as an opportunity to secure qualification for the Rugby World Cup 2027 against 12th-ranked Italy.
“It was a really epic battle,” Civetta said. “We gave the best we could. There were a lot of mistakes, more than what we wanted, and Italy exploited those errors. They were better than us.
“It is quite frustrating, to be honest. We dreamt really big about this match. Big dreams sometimes come true, sometimes they don’t. We need to keep on working. We have two more matches, and we have to prepare them well.”
Head coach Esteban Meneses added, “We came here to make history, but Italy played very well in the second half, so congratulations to them.
“Our target was Italy and Namibia. It was a very tough match, but the second step is Namibia, and we will prepare very well for that match now.