Boks brush Azzurri aside
Boks brush Azzurri asideSHARE
The Springboks cruised to a comfortable 44-10 victory over Italy at Kings Park in Durban on Saturday.
The score suggests a comfortable victory and a 32-point victory margin is clearly substantial. But it was not all comfortable, as Italy probably deserved more for their labours, but they could simply not match the speed of the Springboks.
The start for the Springboks was full of confident promise as they raced to a 20-0 lead in 23 minutes. But the second half was a massive change. After 18 minutes of that second half Italy had enjoyed 94% of both possession and territory, and they had scored 10 points to none by the Springboks. It was only a Springbok penalty against the run of play and then three long-distance tries that took the Springboks to their big lead.
Just some statistics of the half will tell that the Springboks did not have it all their own way. The penalty count in the second half was 6-1 in the Azzurri's favour. They won the line-outs 12-0 – 10 of their own and both of the Springboks' throws. They put ball into seven scrums, the Springboks one. They shoved the Springboks and earned three scrum penalties. When the Italians learnt not to kick-off to Steyn, they beat the Springboks for the ball when they kicked off. From defending for most of the first half the Italians ended the match with 57% of possession. The Springboks did not have it all their own way, but, heavens, their tries were exciting.
Morné Steyn kicked off and Giovanbattista Venditti knocked on. That settled the Springboks on the attack. Willie le Roux kicked an up-and-under and Edoardo Gori was caught with Francois Louw eager to get possession. Gori held on and was penalised. Steyn goaled. 3-0 after 3 minutes.
The Springboks threw way back to Louw at a line-out and he popped the ball inside to Habana who had his first run of the afternoon. Leonardo Ghiraldini was penalised at a tackle. 6-0 after 9 minutes.
The Springboks were now feeling free to run. They ran from their own 22. They had a penalty, kicked out for a line-out instead of for goal, and attacked. Marco Bortolami was penalised at a tackle and then at a maul and then sent to the sin bin. The Springboks kicked out for a five-metre line-out, mauled and scored, Adriaan Strauss credited with the try. 13-0 after 14 minutes.
In contrast to the Springbok maul, the Italian maul barely moved.
Another penalty, another line-out and another attack. Strauss and then JJ Engelbrecht were nearly through. Italy got the ball under pressure and Andrea Masi kicked a long way down the field. From inside his own half, Habana sped and swerved and cut Italy's defence till he passed inside to Engelbrecht who scored his first Springbok try under the posts. 20-0 after 23 minutes.
Just before half-time Italy attacked but Le Roux tackled Sergio Parisse.
In the first half Arno Botha had been penalised for a high tackle. Early in the second half Bjorn Basson was penalised for a high tackle. The referee sent him to the sin bin because it was the second high tackle by his team.
Now it was Italy's turn to settle to the attack. From wide left Alberto Di Bernardo kicked a diagonal to the far right where Alessandro Zanni and Le Roux jumped for the ball. Le Roux won the jump and marked. But Italy stayed on the attack, using line-outs as their springboard. They hammered at the Springbok line and then went left where Parisse passed through his legs to Alberto Sgarbi who powered past Steyn and then went over Jano Vermaak's back to score. 20-7 after 48 minutes.
Italy's confidence on attack grew and when Habana dropped an up-and-under they carried on attacking till Marcell Coetzee, on for Louw who was having bleeding attended to, was penalised at a tackle. Di Bernardo goaled. 20-10 after 58 minutes.
It was then that Vermaak sprinted forward to put pressure on Di Bernardo in his 22 when the scrumhalf pulled up and was helped off the field in obvious pain, replaced by Ruan Pienaar.
Luke McLean was penalised at a tackle and, completely against the run of play, the Springboks scored. 23-10. That seemed to break the ice and lead to a spate of scoring.
The Springboks won a turnover off Sgarbi well inside their half. Jannie du Plessis gave to Tendai Mtawarira who gave toe Adriaan Strauss. Strauss floated a long pass beyond two Springboks to Habana. Habana was immediately sprinting. He passed four Italians and then was able to cruise in for a try at the posts, after a run of 49 metres. This front-row generated try was Habana's 48th in Test rugby and took the score to 30-10 after 66 minutes.
When the Italian handling went awry in the Springbok half, Basson footed through. Ahead of the rest, he footed on twice more till he and Engelbrecht were closest to the ball. Instead of leaving the ball to Basson, Engelbrecht tried to gather it but knocked on.
Le Roux ran strongly as the Springboks went right. The fullback gave a perfect pass to Engelbrecht who lost it at the right corner as Tobie Botes tackled him.
Italy kicked deep into Springbok territory. Engelbrecht got the ball and ran it at the Italians. He was tackled but the Springboks got quick ball and went leftwhere Le Roux had a run and gave to Basson who had a run and then slipped a pass to Jean de Villiers who ran round for a try. 37-10 after 75 minutes and, in terms of the quadrangular competition they are in, that gave the Springboks a bonus point.
Italy won a turnover and went right in a congested area. They tried a lofty pass but Basson grabbed the ball and raced 49 metres to score under the posts. 44-10, the final score.
Man of the Match: Sergio Parisse was wonderful for Italy, as he always is and South Africa had outstanding performances from Adriaan Strauss, Francois Louw, Arno Botha, Willie le Roux and the man who was the thrill of the afternoon, the player who did most to change the course of the game – Bryan Habana.
Moment of the Match: The tries of JJ Engelbrecht, Bryan Habana, Jean de Villiers and Bjorn Basson were all special but our choice is JJ Engelbrecht's when Bryan Habana skated through Italy.
Villain of the Match. There were two yellow cards to share the dubious honour – Marco Bortolami who should know better at this stage in his career and Bjorn Basson for his gross high tackle.
For South Africa:
Tries: Strauss, Engelbrecht, Habana, De Villiers, Basson
Cons: Steyn 5
Pens: Steyn 3
Con: Di Bernardo
Pen: Di Bernardo
Yellow cards: Bortelami (12th minute, repeated infringements) Basson (43 mins, high tackle)
South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Bryan Habana, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Arno Botha, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Flip van der Merwe, 20 Marcell Coetzee, 21 Ruan Pienaar, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Jan Serfontein.
Italy: 15 Andrea Masi, 14 Giovanbattista Venditti, 13 Luca Morisi, 12 Alberto Sgarbi, 11 Luke McLean, 10 Alberto di Bernardo, 9 Edoardo Gori, 8 Sergio Parisse (captain), 7 Robert Barbieri, 6 Alessandro Zanni, 5 Marco Bortolami, 4 Antonio Pavanello, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Alberto de Marchi.
Replacements: 16 Davide Giazzon, 17 Matias Aguero, 18 Martín Castrogiovanni, 19 Valerio Bernabò, 20 Joshua Furno, 21 Tobias Botes, 22 Luciano Orquera, 23 Tommaso Iannone.
Referee: Pascal Gauzère (France)
Assistant referees: Nigel Hennessy (Wales), Blake Beattie (South Africa)
TMO: Johann Meuwesen (South Africa)