Italy defeated the United States 22-10 to open play on Sunday on the second day of the Rugby Women’s World Cup in Whangarei, New Zealand.
Canada beat Japan 41-5 and Wales faced Scotland, also in Whangarei.
Seeded and favourites, England established a clear score in their opening game on Saturday when they scored 14 attempts to beat Fiji 84-19. England left no doubt in the minds of any of their opponents that it will take an extraordinary team and performance to prevent them from winning the world title for a third time.
The three seeded teams in the 12-team tournament played on the opening day in front of a world record crowd for women’s rugby at Auckland’s Eden Park Stadium. France and New Zealand also won their opening matches, but not with the authority shown by England.
New Zealand came from behind from 17-0 to beat Australia 41-17 and France overcame a nearly 50-minute scoreless spell on either side of halftime to beat South Africa 40-5.
Italy 22, USA 10
The Group B match between Italy and the United States always seemed to be one of the closest of the group rounds. Italy ranks fifth and the United States sixth on the world ranking list.
The United States could have been the nominal favorite for their World Cup record. They won the inaugural Cup in 1991 and came fourth in the last tournament in Ireland in 2017.
Several American players knelt during the national anthem in a protest against racism.
Italy came into the match on a high after beating third-placed France last month. The United States had recent victories over Australia and Scotland, but suffered a heavy loss to England.
The United States scored the first try after just four minutes through Hallie Taufoou, who crashed into tackles near the goal line after a pick-and-go attack.
The 5-0 lead held until the last moments before halftime when Italy equalized through Vittoria Ostuni Minuzzi, showing her ability to keep the ball in her hand on long attacks from the baseline. The conversion gave Italy a 7-5 break at halftime.
Italy stretched their lead to 12-5 on a try by Aura Muzzo who was down the line as Italy stretched the US defense.
The US came back strong and had a chance to level the score with a try from Jenny Kronish after 57 minutes, but missed the conversion.
Italy then secured the game with a second try from Muzzo and another from Maria Magatti with 10 minutes remaining.
Canada 41, Japan 5
Hooker Emily Tuttosi, based in England, scored three tries and Canada showed that they will have to be considered among the title contenders with a win over Japan by seven tries to one.
Canada is ranked fourth in the world and has come into this tournament in good form after recent wins over Australia, USA, Fiji, Italy and Wales. Their only loss in their last six games was against New Zealand.
Big and physical with a strong approach to defense, Canada also has powerful ball handlers between their tight and loose forwards. He used his size and strength on Sunday to finally dominate Japan, scoring five tries before halftime.
Canada went the entire run in the match, scoring the first try through forward Paige Farries after just two minutes. Japan leveled the score at 5-5 with a six-minute try from Maki Takano.
From then on, Canada exerted almost total control with a perfect record on set pieces. Tuttosi scored his first attempt with a line drive in the 14th minute and his second with a more powerful line drive in the 29th minute.
Scrumhalf Brianna Miller made a great break from a broken game to score the first of her two first-half tries in the 25th minute.
“We are very happy to have walked away with the victory today.” Miller said. “I think today we had a little bit of a challenge in our discipline, so we just have to fine-tune a few things in our game plan and our discipline.
“We will just enjoy the win today and focus on our next game in the next few days.”
Tuttosi completed his hat-trick in the 50th minute.
Canada was captained by Sophie de Goede, whose mother and father have also captained Canada in a World Cup.
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