Italy have scored three tries in 10 minutes to give themselves some breathing room against a stubborn Namibia before recording a 47-22 win in their pool opener in Osaka.
The Italians had dominated much of the play at Hanazono Stadium in Sunday’s first half, with their forwards providing a stable base to attack and create space but it was not until scrumhalf Tito Tebaldi scored on the stroke of halftime that they were able to pull away.
Winger Edoardo Padovani and replacement Carlo Canna both crossed shortly after the break to put the game beyond doubt as the Azzurri earned a bonus point with seven tries.
Namibia, who have lost all 20 of their World Cup matches, still managed to give the crowd something to cheer about with tries to halfback Damian Stevens and wingers JC Greyling and Chad Plato.
Italy travel to Fukuoka to meet Canada on Thursday, while Namibia face South Africa on Saturday in Toyota City.
The Azzurri, however, suffered a significant injury blow when tighthead prop Tiziano Pasquali was carried off late in the first half after colliding with captain Sergio Parisse’s shoulder when they made a tackle.
Namibia provided an early shock with No.9 Stevens finishing off a sweeping movement after Italian hooker Luca Bigi had overthrown a lineout.
The try, however, seemed to wake up the Italians and they began to exert some scrum dominance, with referee Nic Berry awarding a penalty try after the Namibian pack had disintegrated on their line.
Italy produced several line breaks but werey only able to convert twice, with flyhalf Tommaso Allan smashing over after a superb run by inside centre Luca Morisi.
Tebaldi scored right on halftime when lock Federico Ruzza popped a no-look pass to give his side a 21-7 lead at the break.
The Italians put the game beyond doubt when Padovani and Canno scored for a 35-7 lead and looked set to open the floodgates.
A penalty from Namibia flyhalf Cliven Loubser and Greyling’s try from an attacking scrum stemmed the flow, but Italian replacements Jake Polledri and Matteo Minozzi both crossed.
Namibia’s Plato finished the scoring from a searing midfield break to give Azzurri coach Conor O’Shea some defensive concerns.