Italy fired up for must-win tie with Irish

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The Independent Online

Italy set up a showdown with Ireland on Sunday after roughing up the United States yesterday, while Japanese players were reduced to tears after failing to break their 20-year winless streak at the World Cup with a draw against Canada in Napier.

The Japanese were already on their way home before their 23-23 stalemate in Pool A, and the Americans joined them at the exit after falling 27-10 to Italy in their Pool C clash in Nelson.

The Azzurri scrum appropriately secured the bonus point with a penalty try late in the second half as the Americans wilted in the face of the onslaught of Italian muscle. But Italy's performance was patchy and Ireland will not be quaking in their boots ahead of their must-win match in Dunedin on Sunday.

"It was a tough physical match and we are a bit disappointed with how we played, but we did what we had to do and managed to get the five points," said prop Martin Castrogiovanni.

"I think our minds were drifting to the Ireland match a bit and that affected how we played."

Canadian fly-half Ander Monro earlier slotted a 79th-minute penalty to break Japanese hearts, ensuring a draw for a second successive World Cup between the two nations and denying the Brave Blossoms a first win since the 1991 tournament.

The Canadians could mathematically still qualify for the last eight by turning the rugby world on its head with a bonus-point win over hosts New Zealand – they also need Tonga to stun France in the final round of matches at the weekend.

"The tie is a bit like kissing your cousin. It's great to kiss them but it's your cousin," Canada captain Pat Riordan said after drawing with Japan. "The guys are pretty glum at the moment."

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