FUKUOKA – A dropped ball by replacement flanker Matt Heaton with the line gaping did not cost Canada victory against Italy in their Rugby World Cup Pool B match on Thursday but it could have changed the game's momentum, coach Kingsley Jones said.
Heaton only had to catch the ball and flop over the line after his captain Tyler Ardron had burst clear to set up what should have been their opening try and reduce the score to 17-7 after the Italians had started strongly.
Instead the Italians reached halftime 17-0 up at Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium and kicked on to run out 48-7 winners, going top of a pool that includes heavyweights New Zealand and South Africa. "I thought we just didn't finish our opportunities," Jones told reporters.
"If we had taken a gift under the posts then that changes the shape of the game, not just the scoreboard, but unfortunately we didn't take those chances."
Heaton's gaffe was not the only mistake made by the North Americans in a 20-minute first-half spell, missing two other clear-cut chances to score as DTH van der Merwe created space down the left wing, and when the Canadians wasted a three-on-one chance the momentum swung back to the Italians who duly capitalised.