World Rankings: Bok slide continues
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: South Africa have dropped down to fifth in the world rankings after their 18-20 defeat to Italy in Florence last weekend.
The defeat was South Africa's seventh this year and it has seen Ireland move above them into fourth despite their 9-21 defeat to the All Blacks.
Scotland move on to 80.57 points after a narrow win over Argentina. The win puts the Scots seventh ahead of France and Argentina, although less than a point covers the three nations. Crucially, ninth-placed Argentina only have one game left – against England at Twickenham – to move back into the world's top eight and give themselves the chance of a more favourable seeding when the pools for World Cup 2019 are drawn in May.
Ignoring the nine-place differential in the World Rugby Rankings between themselves and the touring South Africans, Italy produced a dominant performance to beat the Springboks at the 13th time of asking, tries from Dries van Schalkwyk and Giovanbattista Venditti securing the Azzurri their first win at home for two years.
Italy gain two full rating points which would have been enough to lift them up one place to 12th in the rankings had Georgia not beaten Samoa 20-16 in Tbilisi. One-hundredth of a rating point is all that now separates Conor O'Shea's men from the Lelos.
Grand Slam-seeking Australia cemented third place with a tense 25-23 win against France in Paris. It was their third win on tour so far following earlier victories against Wales and Scotland.
At the top of the rankings, New Zealand shrugged off a high penalty count and the loss of two men to the sin-bin to beat Ireland 21-9 and gain revenge for their defeat to the same opposition a fortnight ago in Chicago.
Having picked up one-fifth of a rating point the All Blacks are now on 94.78 points with England unchanged in second, on 89.84 points, after their 58-15 win over Fiji at Twickenham.