Boks punish 14-man Italy
WORLD CUP REPORT: South Africa took a huge step towards the World Cup quarterfinals on Friday with a 49-3 bonus-point win over Italy, who had a man sent off for a dangerous tackle.
The Springboks ran in seven tries on their way to victory and they will finish the Pool stage of the World Cup with a match against Canada on Tuesday.
What a flop! What an anticlimax! After 14 minutes, both Italian tightheads had gone off and the scrums became uncontested, thus depriving the Springboks of a major weapon and the game of much of its soul. Scrums and scrumming are an intrinsic part of rugby football.
At the first scrum, the first Italian tighthead Simone Ferrari went off injured. His replacement, 21-year-old Marco Riccioni, tackled Lood de Jager and went off for a head injury assessment. He did not return. Because Italy did not have a suitably trained player to play tighthead, the scrums became uncontested.
Of course, there are suspicions. The Italians knew beforehand that the Springboks would use the scrum as a powerful weapon. They surely also knew that they were not going to be able to cope. Uncontested scrums certainly made life easier for the Italians.
There was nothing suspicious about the removal of the third prop. Whistle gone to penalise South Africa for being offside, the remaining Italian props, Andrea Lovotti and Nicola Quaglio, lifted Duane Vermeulen up off the ground and tipped him over till he was vertical to the ground, feet in the air. From there they dropped him onto the ground. Lovotti’s action was considered worse than Quaglio’s and so Lovotti was sent off, and Italy played with 14 men for the next 38 minutes. The score was 17-3 at that stage. The Springboks were left to score every now and again, getting the sort of result that they desired, though without any panache.
South Africa scored two tries in the first half. The first try was significant as they put the ball through quick phases – Faf de Klerk was still quick from rucks at that stage – and showed that playing with ball in hand was not a problem, as the forecast rain stayed away and the humidity subsided.
The Springboks went left and then a long pass from Willie le Roux reached Kolbe who stepped inside one and beat the second to score in the right corner. Handré Pollard converted from far out. 7-0 after five minutes.
Three minutes later, Bongi Mbonambi was penalised and Tommaso Alan made the score 7-3. Italy did not score in the next 72 minutes of the match. If they did seem eager to attack, the Springbok defence smothered their efforts.
A high tackle by Luca Bigi gave the Springboks a five-metre lineout and from the maul Mbonambi surged over.
Early in the second half, both sides, both of whom had six forwards on the bench, started making substitutions will the benches were emptied. This added to the air of unreality that attended the match.
Pollard kicked a penalty goal and then, on advantage for a high-tackle penalty, he kicked a diagonal for Kolbe to grab and score. 25-3.
There was helter-skelter play as both sides had promising runs from defence, till Lukhanyo Am intercepted a pass from Jake Polledri and had an easy run to the line. 32-3 and a bonus point for South Africa. There was doubt that they would go through to the quarterfinals.
A Le Roux chip set up a try for Mapimpi and then a Kolbe tackle on Matteo Minozzi gave the ball to RG Snyman who scored and felt delighted. 44-3 with four minutes to play.
It was just time enough for a penalty, lineout and maul try for Malcolm Marx. The match ended then at 49-3.
Man of the Match: In the Springbok back there was the colossal strength of calm Duane Vermeulen and amongst the backs there was mercurial, skilled Cheslin Kolbe who did all things so well that he is our Man of the Match.
Moment of the Match: Choose between the departure of Marco Riccioni to start the uncontested scrums or the excommunication of Andrea Lovotti to start the Springboks’ steady accumulation of points. Our choice is Lovotti’s action.
Villain of the Match: Andrea Lovotti
For South Africa:
Tries: Kolbe, Mbonambi, Kolbe, Am, Mapimpi, Snyman, Marx
Cons: Pollard 4
Pens: Pollard 2
Red card: Andrea Lovotti (Italy, 43 – dangerous play, tip tackle)
South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Francois de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siyamthanda Kolisi (captain), 5 Lodewyk de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Rudolph Snyman, 20 Franco Mostert, 21 Francois Louw, Herschel Jantjies, 23 Frans Steyn.
Italy: 15 Matteo Minozzi, 14 Tommaso Benvenuti, 13 Luca Morisi, 12 Jayden Hayward, 11 Michele Campagnaro, 10 Tommaso Allan, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Sergio Parisse (captain), 7 Jake Polledri, 6 Braam Steyn, 5 Dean Budd, 4 David Sisi, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Luca Bigi, 1 Andrea Lovotti.
Replacements: 16 Federico Zani, 17 Nicola Quaglio, 18 Marco Riccioni, 19 Alessandro Zanni, 20 Federico Ruzza, 21 Sebastian Negri, 22 Callum Braley, 23 Carlo Canna.
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: Romain Poite (France), Alexandre Ruiz (France)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)