The South Africans all but ended the Italians' hopes of knockout stage progression
2019 Rugby World Cup: South Africa v Italy
2019 Rugby World Cup: South Africa 49-3 Italy
Played – 14
South Africa wins – 13
Italy wins – 1
Most recent meeting – South Africa 35-6 Italy (25 November 2017)
A year on from their famous loss to the Italians, the Springboks were out for revenge in Padua as they demolished the Azzurri 35-6.
Did You Know?
- South Africa hold the record for the most consecutive World Cup matches without conceding a try – a six-Test run from Spain in 1999 to Uruguay in 2003.
- Makazole Mapimpi joined Kotaro Matsushima (Japan) as Test rugby’s top try-scorer of 2019. Both have scored seven tries this year.
- Handre Pollard raised his World Cup points tally to 115, overtaking Percy Montgomery’s 111 for the Springboks record.
Related: Rugby World Cup Fixtures
In a nutshell
South Africa effectively demolished Italy’s hopes of advancing to the knockout out stage of a World Cup for the first time. Things went wrong for the Azzurri from the moment a second-minute scrum collapsed and tighthead Simone Ferrari incurred a hamstring injury that ended his involvement. More than half the match was to be played with uncontested scrums.
It was a frenetic start to the pivotal Pool B match, with intense carrying and quick ball giving the Italians no time to set their defence. As a result Cheslin Kolbe scored beautifully with his usual incredible skill and quick stepping, eluding Michele Campagnaro and Matteo Minozzi with ease. Pollard slotted the conversion after five minutes.
The Italians got right back into it with a penalty from Allan. However, they gave that right back with a penalty from Pollard. The frenzied start continued but it seemed any time the South Africans entered the Italian half they would score. The speed the Springboks went through their phases was simply too much for the Italians to handle in the opening quarter.
But the Italians did persevere and with an HIA to replacement tighthead Marco Riccioni, after he tackled Lood de Jager, the match went to uncontested scrums for the rest of the game. This seemed to galvanise the men in blue as they came close to scoring on several occasions but their lack of clinical finishing cost them as the South Africans went down the other end and scored a try through a rolling maul. Bongi Mbonambi was the man who dotted down after 26 minutes, the 17th try by a hooker at this tournament. The previous record was 12.
Italy coach Conor O’Shea surely at half-time would have told his players to be clever and just stay in contact with the Springboks, but two players in particular chose to ignore that advice. Props Andrea Lovotti and Nicola Quaglio lifted Duane Vermeuelen into the air and dumped him on his head. Lovotti was sent off but it could have quite easily been both of them.
A couple of minutes later the South Africans appeared to have made that extra man count as Pieter-Steph du Toit crossed to score a try but it was disallowed after captain Siya Kolisi was adjudged to have obstructed Tommaso Allan. Regardless Pollard slotted a penalty a couple of minutes later and then Kolbe crossed the try-line again after a lovely Pollard cross-kick.
The rest of the match turned into a foregone conclusion and the South Africans showed ruthlessness as Lukhanyo Am, Makazole Mapimpi and RG Snyman crossed to score tries. The final nail in the coffin was a try by replacement hooker Malcolm Marx from a rolling maul.
The South African defence was colossal and relentless in every single way. In short the Italians got dominated in terms of physicality and on the scoreboard which finally read 49-3. However, the perfect evening was dampened by a possible ankle injury to Kolbe, who sat out the final few minutes on the touch-line. His body language suggested it could be serious.
Cheslin Kolbe as per usual was electric to watch and scored a brace to boot. Let’s hope the ankle injury isn’t too serious so we can see him again during the tournament.
Related: Rugby World Cup TV Coverage
South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus: “One of the things we tried to do today was, with the 6-2 split (forwards-backs among the replacements), try to get a physical performance out there.
“Tactically and technically there were some mistakes but the way the guys physically pitched is what we wanted to get out of this game. If we want to go all the way that’s something that we need in our game. We felt that in our previous tests this year it wasn’t really consistent.
“Italy are a really well-coached team. Conor (O’Shea) is a sharp coach. We were nervous about this game and are totally in play-off mode.
“We definitely have to get better on the attacking side. As you saw, New Zealand scored nine tries two nights ago (against Canada) and we scored nine tries (against Namibia). Some people enjoy the way New Zealand score tries, and we enjoy the way we score tries.
“We know the way we performed tonight is good enough to get us to a quarter-final, and we know we have to have some improvements on attack to progress to semi-finals and finals.
“But that is not the only area we need to improve. We were better at scrum time against a good Italian pack, until they had to go to uncontested scrums. We were good in our mauling, breakdown and physical areas. Surprisingly we were bad in our discipline when defending.
“It’s one box ticked. There is the Canada game and after that hopefully three more games with the same frame of mind in terms of intensity, expectations, pressure, big moments.”
Italy coach Conor O’Shea: “The first thing is all of us are destroyed. South Africa were stronger than us today. At 17-3 we made this line break and then something inexplicable happened (Andrea Lovotti was sent off) and after the red card the match was over.
“We’d already lost two players (props Simone Ferrari and Marco Riccioni) in the first half. We said before the match that we had to do everything perfectly. We came in with confidence. You prepare for a lot of eventualities but you can’t prepare for that.
“If we’d scored, you’d ask a question in the back of their minds. This wasn’t them coming to Italy in the autumn, this was them coming at us when we stood in their way (of reaching the quarter-finals).
“I’m disappointed for us because we’ve come so far, and we have a lot of young players who will benefit from a game like that. That was a day they should only learn from once they get over the disappointment.”
On South Africa’s prospects: “I wouldn’t want to stand in front of them as they’re massive. When that power gets on the front foot, it is wave after wave. They are very structured so you know what they’re going to do until they get on that front foot. They’ll be difficult to stop.”
South Africa: Willie le Roux; Cheslin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am (Frans Steyn 69), Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi; Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk (Herschel Jantjies 60); Tendai Mtawarira (Steven Kitshoff 40), Bongi Mbonambi (Malcolm Marx 50), Frans Malherbe (Vincent Koch 40), Eben Etzebeth (RG Snyman 54), Lood de Jager (Franco Mostert 60), Siya Kolisi (capt), Pieter-Steph du Toit, Duane Vermeulen (Francois Louw 64).
Tries: Kolbe 5, 52, Mbonambi 26, Am 58, Mapimpi 67, Snyman 76, Marx 80. Cons: Pollard 4. Pens: Pollard 2.
Italy: Matteo Minozzi; Tommaso Benvenuti, Luca Morisi (Carlo Canna 70), Jayden Hayward, Michele Campagnaro; Tommaso Allan, Tito Tebaldi (Callum Braley 60); Andrea Lovotti, Luca Bigi (Federico Zani 56), Simone Ferrari (Marco Riccioni 3, Nicola Quaglio 18), David Sisi (Alessandro Zanni 70), Dean Budd (capt, Federico Ruzza 45), Abraham Steyn, Jake Polledri, Sergio Parisse (Sebastian Negri 60).
Red card: Andrea Lovotti 42.
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