South Africa took a huge step towards the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals Friday with a 49-3 bonus-point win over Italy, who had a man sent off for a dangerous tackle.
The Springboks kept their cool to overpower ragged Italy in Pool B of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Shizuoka on Friday. It was billed as a likely shootout for second spot in the group, following the Boks’ opening game loss to New Zealand’s All Blacks and a regulation win over lowly neighbours Namibia.
The Azzurri, meanwhile, had registered bonus point wins of the Namibians and Canada. Cheslin Kolbe – so impressive against the All Blacks before being rested for the second match – put the South Africans into an early lead. The wing danced inside and out after gathering a trademark Willie le Roux skip-pass to score in the right corner with six minutes on the clock.
It was looking like the Boks would reap further reward for their early dominance, before the law of unintended consequences kicked in. Tighthead prop Simone Ferrari hobbled off before his replacement, Marco Riccioni, trudged down the tunnel soon after for a head injury assessment, from which he never returned. Uncontested scrums were the only option for referee Wayne Barnes, robbing South Africa of their set piece power.
A spell of territory followed for the Azzurri, but it was the Boks who forged further ahead at the other end. Bongi Mbonambi bustled in from the back of the maul after a pair of penalties had put South Africa in perfect position. Italy lost their third prop almost straight after half time in far uglier circumstances.
Andrea Lovotti combined with Nicola Quaglio to lift Duane Vermeulen at the breakdown before dumping the eighth man on his head. The loosehead was adjudged to be most at fault and was red-carded in the easiest refereeing decision of the World Cup so far.
A third South African try was inevitable – and it was Kolbe who gathered Handre Pollard’s smart cross-kick before speeding away to finish. Lukhanyo Am then intercepted to add the fourth on the hour mark, after the Boks had twice flung away possession with the final pass – temporarily being dragged down to Italy’s level.
Bonus point in the bag, Makazole Mapimpi stooped well to gather Willie le Roux’s kick through before dashing clear to add try number five.
Replacement lock RG Snyman added his first Test try, after Kolbe made a pest of himself to coax a panicked offload from Matteo Minozzi in the closing minutes. And they finished within one point of the half century, as Malcolm Marx tumbled in at the back of the maul in overtime to seal a comprehensive success.
In other news – Springboks top Pool B after beating Italy #RWC2019
South Africa ramped up the physicality to crush an Italy side reduced to 14 men for most of the second half 49-3 on Friday, moving above the Italians and New Zealand to the top of Rugby World Cup Pool B in the process.
The Springboks have never failed to reach the quarter-finals of the World Cup and they all but erased that possibility at this tournament with a display of controlled brutality at Shizuoka Stadium. Read more