The Italians, five days before they face Ireland in Dunedin, enjoyed a dominant scrum against the United States but made heavy weather of their bonus-point win over Eddie O’Sullivan’s Eagles in Nelson.
That did not stop former South Africa coach Mallett, ahead of potentially his final match in charge of Italy, from throwing a grenade into the pre-match build-up.
“Ireland are a great side and played very well against Australia. 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,” Mallett said in post-match comments.
“I’m hoping that [Martin] Castrogiovanni, Leonardo [Ghiraldini] and Salvatore [Perugini] can put us on the front foot, and if you’re on the front foot it’s makes it more difficult for them.”
Of the victory over the game Americans, in which Italy forced 10 penalties and a second-half penalty try on the weaker US pack at scrum time, Mallett said: “Our main advantage is our scrum and we dominated them completely.
“I’m sorry for the spectators it mightn’t have been as open as they would have liked but you play to your strengths and we have got a very good front row and we deserved the penalty try, if not a couple more quite frankly.”
Italy captain Sergio Parisse will take his side into Sunday’s clash full of confidence.
“We can look ahead to the Ireland game with confidence. It will be a big match. We have just five days to recover but we are looking forward to it with a lot of confidence.”
ITALY: Masi, Benvenuti, Canale, Garcia, M Bergamasco, Orquera, Semenzato, Perugini, Ghiraldini, Castrogiovanni, Geldenhuys, Van Zyl, Zanni, M Bergamasco, Parisse.
Replacements: Derbyshire for M Bergamasco (70), Bocchino for Orquera (67), Gori for Semenzato (67), Lo Cicero for Perugini (51), Ongaro for Ghiraldini (73).
USA: Wyles, Ngwenya, Emerick, A Suniula, Paterson, R Suniula, Petri, MacDonald, Biller, Moeakiola, Van der Giessen, Smith, Stanfill, Clever, Johnson.
Replacements: Scully for A Suniula (46), Malifa for R Suniula (72), Usasz for Petri (63), Thiel for Biller (29), Pittman for Moeakiola (56), LaValla for Johnson (68).
Referee: George Clancy (IRFU).