RLWC: Italy dodge punches to ground Hawks

James Tedesco scored a double against USA to put a horror week off the field behind him.
James Tedesco scored a double against USA to put a horror week off the field behind him.

FINALLY, Italy have shown some fight on the field to keep their slim Rugby League World Cup finals hopes alive with a 46-0 rout of United States in Townsville on Sunday.

The lead-up to the Azzurri's must-win game was marred by an NRL integrity unit investigation into James Tedesco's Cairns nightclub dust up with teammate Shannon Wakeman.

But it didn't stop world No.12 Italy coming out swinging on Sunday, emerging from their week from hell to earn their opening victory of the 2017 tournament by running in eight unanswered tries.

Man of the moment Tedesco scored two of them.

Winger Josh Mantellato kicked a record seven goals for Italy in a Cup match. The Azzurri endured a shock opening 36-12 loss to Ireland last week in Cairns - then things really went pear shaped.

Hours after their surprise defeat Sydney Roosters signing Tedesco and Italy teammate Wakeman were involved in an off-field incident that prompted an ongoing NRL integrity unit probe.

The next day Italy halfback Jack Johns - son of ex-Kangaroo Matthew - was ruled out for the rest of the tournament with a broken arm.

The Bulldogs and Italy have a talent in hooker Joseph Tramontana.
The Bulldogs and Italy have a talent in hooker Joseph Tramontana.

Yet Italy dug deep on Sunday to hold out world No.10 USA and remain a finals hope.

Italy must pull off a huge upset over the other team in their group - Pacific powerhouses Fiji - in their final pool clash in Canberra on Friday night to give themselves a chance of clinching a maiden quarter-final berth at just their second World Cup.

Only one team from their three-team group advance.

Italy were again behind the eight ball before kickoff on Sunday when veteran pivot Terry Campese failed to overcome a calf complaint.

It ensured NSW fullback Tedesco slotted into five-eighth for the Azzurri alongside new halfback Ryan Ghietti with Mason Cerruto the new No.1. But Italy were otherwise untroubled against surprise 2013 Cup quarter-finalists USA.

At just their second tournament, Italy notched their biggest Cup total and largest win eclipsing both marks set in their 32-16 victory over Wales in 2013. Nathan Friend lookalike, Canterbury NSW Cup hooker Joseph Tramontana, was inspirational for Italy helping himself to two first half tries. Italy led 28-0 at halftime.

Tedesco cut through three defenders to score his first try in the 15th minute before sealing the double by crashing over the left sideline in the 43rd. Winless USA have now conceded 104 points in their two pool games.

Topics:  italy james tedesco rlwc

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