Preview: Italy v South Africa
WORLD CUP POOL MATCH: To the victors go the spoils. In this case a place in the quarterfinals and the real possibility of global glory.
To the loser, there is an early trip home.
Defeat will be more than just losing a match.
By the same token, victory will be more than just winning a match.
Defeat will dash hopes and expectations, more so if you are the Springboks, for they have not yet failed to reach the quarterfinals.
For Italy, it will be situation as usual.
Victory will send hopes and expectations soaring in excitement.
This will be the first time that Italy and South Africa will have met at a World Cup.
The first time that they met at all was in 1995, after the World Cup that the Springboks won.
The Springboks, dubbed The World Champions at the time, went to Europe with their coach Kitch Christie and broke new ground by playing Italy and doing so on a Sunday.
Italy and South Africa have played 14 times. South Africa have won 13 times, Italy once, but that once was as recent as 2016.
It has happened and it can happen again, though for Italy to win will require them to lift their game and for South Africa to lose their performance would have to be way below par.
Players to Watch
For Italy: The weather could determine how the match is played, and the forecast is not good – thunderstorms above the Shizuoka Stadium, which is open to the elements. The Italian backline has exciting players, especially fullback Matteo Minozzi and outside centre Luca Morisi, fed by excellent scrumhalf Tito Tebaldi and flyhalf Tommaso Allan, part Italian and part Scottish with experience of playing down in the Western Province.
For South Africa: Italy has nobody with the magic of Cheslin Kolbe, the Springbok back most likely to grab the attention, even in the rain. It is in the forwards that the Springboks are most likely to dominate. They could well be far too strong for the Italians – in the set pieces, in mauling and, as a consequence, in dominating the breakdown. What the Springboks do with the ball will matter. The weather seems to demand lots of kicking but if the Springboks kick as badly as they did against the All Blacks, they could well open doors for the eager Italians. It would be better for South Africa if Faf de Klerk gave the ball to Handré Pollard as quickly and accurately as possible.
Head to Head
Front row versus Front row – Tendai Mtawarira, Bongi Mbonambi and Frans Malherbe versus Andrea Lovotti, Luca Bigi and Simone Ferrari. You would expect the Springboks to have the upper hand, as you would expect Lodewyk de Jager to do better in the line-outs than New Zealander Dean Budd. In the loose forward contest, South Africa could well have greater strength and energy. Goal-kicking – Tommaso Allan versus Handré Pollard – depends on when and where the kicker takes aim and Pollard may just have an easier job. Both kick well at goal. Bench versus Bench. Both benches have six forwards and two backs, and here, too, the Springboks would seem to have men capable of greater impact. The advantage Italy have is in a longer focus on the match. The Springboks’ first match was against New Zealand, which demanded great concentration, while Italy played Namibia, able to concentrate their plans and energies on the Springboks, their first big hurdle and a decisive one.
Last 12 results
At the World Cup this year:
Italy has beaten Namibia (47-22) and Canada (48-7).
South Africa have lost to New Zealand (23-13) and beaten Namibia (57-3).
Our prediction: We suggest that South Africa will win by over 20 points, though adverse weather conditions can be a leveller. But let us remind ourselves that whoever wins this match lives to fight another day and another day. Whoever loses this match is left to go through the motions once more before limping quietly home.
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.
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.
Date: Friday, 4 October 2019
Venue: Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa, Shizuoka Prefecture
Kick-off: 18.45 (11.45 SA and Italian time; 09.45 GMT)
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Expected weather: Thunderstorms with a high of 28°C and a low of 22°C
Assistant referees: Romain Poite (France), Alexandre Ruiz (France)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)