Rugby World Cup 2011: Jennings wary of Italian ability

Shane Jennings
Jennings was one of Ireland's try-scores in Sunday's 62-12 win over Russia

Ireland flanker Shane Jennings says his team's Rome escape act in February proves victory over Italy in Sunday's crucial World Cup showdown must not be taken for granted.

The Irish have beaten Italy in their last 15 meetings but needed a late Ronan O'Gara drop goal to win at the Stadio Flaminio earlier this year.

"We didn't deserve to win that Six Nations game," said Jennings.

"If you give them ball like we did that day, they can do damage."

Jennings is expecting more of the same from the Italians in Dunedin.

Defeat will almost certainly see Ireland depart the World Cup, though if they were to lose while securing two bonus points they would be reprieved.

"There will be no complacency. We're very realistic, certainly not over-confident, but we know we have the ability to win," said the Leinster open-side.

"You have to back up the words with a performance and we realise we are up against a very experienced team with some quality players and good leaders.

"The obvious thing that comes out every time you play Italy is that they've very physical and can match that with some dangerous runners."

Italy secured a try-scoring bonus point in their 27-10 triumph over the United States on Tuesday to set up the shootout for a place in the quarter-finals.

After the match, Azzurri coach Nick Mallett threw down the gauntlet to Declan Kidney's side by promising them a torrid time in the scrum.

"Ireland are a great side and played very well against Australia," said Mallett.

"They dominated Australia physically but we know perfectly well that we've got a better front row than Ireland, and we're going to go in there to prove that on Sunday."

Rob Kearney (bruised knee), Keith Earls (bruised leg), Sean O'Brien (bruised arm), Tommy Bowe (calf) and Paul O'Connell (hamstring) and Gordon D'Arcy are continuing their rehabilitation from injury, though none have been ruled out of Sunday's clash.