South Africa 49-3 Italy Rugby World Cup Match Report
South Africa approached this third fixture of the World Cup knowing only a win would do. Defeat would mean a first-ever failure for the Springboks to reach the quarter-final stage but in truth, victory was never in doubt with the South African pack sending a warning to any upcoming opponents of their huge brute force.
This was a professional, powerful performance by South Africa with the Rugby Championship title holders once again underlying their credentials as contenders for the World Cup.
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A scoreline of 49-3 may flatter the victors a little, with Italy struggling once they’d had Andrea Lovotti sent off for a crazy challenge early in the second half, but for the Springboks, it’s almost mission accomplished with a place in the knock-out stages all but confirmed.
Rassie Erasmus made 10 changes to the South African side which thumped Namibia last time out. Sergio Parisse returned to captain Italy with both sides boasting a full-strength lineup for this crunch tie.
First half highlights
There was an early blow for Italy with tighthead Simone Ferrari forced to leave the field of play due to a hamstring injury, and things only worsened two minutes later with the first South African try of the game.
The Springboks attacked it from the outset with Cheslin Kobe demonstrating his fleetness of foot to go over in the left corner and add some early first points of the match. Fly-half Handre Pollard followed up for the other two.
The South African intent was clear from the get-go with some truly brutal quick ball on display but Italy responded well to those early setbacks and picked up their first points of the match on eight minutes with a penalty kicked over by Oxfordshire-schooled Tommaso Allan.
South Africa pulled further ahead on the 12-minute mark with a penalty kick from Pollard to make it 10-3. Another blow for Italy as 20 minutes approached with Marco Riccioni off with a head knock. With the blue shirts already out of tighthead props, English referee Wayne Barnes was forced to call 10 minutes of uncontested scrums which would last the entire match once the outcome of Riccioni’s Head Injury Assessment had been confirmed.
With that ruling meaning one of the Springboks main armouries had been neutralised, Italy swung back into the game and began enjoying a decent spell midway through the first half. But unable to turn that play into points, South Africa unleashed a fierce driving maul to spring hooker Bongi Mbonambi over the line from a metre out on 26 minutes. Pollard picked up the extras.
Both sides defended well to the break and the two teams entered the dressing room with the score stuck at 17-3. South Africa’s bruising pack had pounded their opponents in merciless fashion. The Springboks had enjoyed a first 40 in total control but perhaps lacked a little fluency in attack. The Italians were left no doubt scratching their heads at how to retaliate to such ferocious power in the second period.
The second half got underway with some early drama. Italy had loosehead Andrea Lovotti sent off after two minutes of play for a reckless challenge on Duane Vermeulen. The South African literally lifted and dumped the Italian number 8 head first onto the turf to give Wayne Barnes little choice but to produce a red card.
That dismissal and a numerical advantage paved the way for Rassie Erasmus to make a number of changes to rest key men ahead of the final pool match against Canada next week.
As the 45th minute approached South Africa had a Pieter-Steph Du Toit try chalked off for infringement but Pollard made it 20-3 five minutes later from a penalty in front of the posts.
The South African fly-half was again in the thick of the action with a delicious chip forward to set up Cheslin Kolbe for his second try of the game. The usually-impeccable Pollard misdirected his conversion just right of the posts this time.
With the Springboks stretching to a 25-3 lead, the man advantage began to show and South African centre, Lukhanyo Am, broke down the wing on 58 minutes to earn the bonus point try. Pollard stepped forward to successfully convert and become his country’s highest point scorer in World Cups.
After Kolbe’s two, a try for South Africa’s winger from the other side of the pitch saw Makazole Mapimpi go over on 67. With Italy now focussed solely on leaving something in the tank with the All Blacks up next, RG Snyman added a sixth Springbok try with four minutes to go. Malcolm Marx added a seventh two minutes into added time to make it 49-3 at the end. Pollard converted one and missed two from that final flurry of opportunities in front of the posts. If you think South Africa can go on and win the World Cup, then Bet UK are offering odds of 4/1.
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*All odds from Bet UK’s online betting markets correct at the time of writing.
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