Boks make statement ... without Rassie
REPORT: South Africa made the perfect statement to World Rugby two days after Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus was banned … again.
The Springboks routed a willing Italian team 63-21 in Genoa on Saturday – outscoring their hosts by nine tries to two.
It was a great mix of brute force and sublime running skill that blew the Azzurri away, after the home team trailed by just six points (13-18) at the end of an impressive first half.
It was a five-try blitz in a 10-minute spell in a one-sided second half that took the sting out of the Italians.
It was South Africa’s first win of their year-end tour
* To recap all the drama, CLICK HERE!
The Italians, coming off an historic win over Australia last Saturday, had more than held their own in the first-half with the Springboks only leading 18-13 at the break.
However, five quickfire South African tries in the second-half ensured the hosts would not repeat the shock win over them in Florence in 2016.
It was the best possible response to their two narrow defeats to Ireland (16-19) and France (26-30).
The only concern for the Springboks ahead of their final Test of the tour against England next Saturday will be wing Cheslin Kolbe, who went off after scoring a try with what appeared to be a right hamstring injury.
The visitors came out firing on all cylinders and struck inside two minutes – Kurt-Lee Arendse had far too much pace for Luca Morisi going over in the corner.
Italy flyhalf Tommaso Allan and Kolbe exchanged penalties in a frenetic opening 10 minutes before the hosts took the lead with a wonderful try.
Fullback Ange Capuozzo was the executor.
The Toulouse star received a wonderful pass from prop Danilo Fischetti and then produced a delightful jink to side-step Kolbe, running in from 20 metres out to touch down for his fifth try in just seven Tests.
Allan converted for 10-8 and added a penalty in the 21st minute to extend their lead to five points.
Kolbe replied with a penalty of his own to pull the world champions to within two points of the hosts.
A thrilling back and forth encounter saw the Boks go back in front just after the half hour mark – hooker Bongi Mbonambi forcing his way over for his 12th try for his country.
Kolbe converted for 18-13.
‘Collided with the hip’
Allan got the first points of the second period slotting over a penalty but the Boks struck back from the resulting kick-off.
Kolbe outjumped Morisi and then going over for the try. However, in doing so he suffered the injury that forced him off.
Francois de Klerk missed the conversion to leave the visitors 23-16 up.
They moved to 30-16 within minutes as a quickfire passing move saw captain Siyamthanda Kolisi feed Arendse and the wing went in for his second of the match.
Replacement Manie Libbok landed a superb conversion from the touchline.
The South Africans were in clinical mode now and stretched their lead further as Albertus Smith went over for a try – Libbok converting for 37-16.
Replacement hooker Malcolm Marx added another try as the Springboks disappeared over the horizon – Libbok’s conversion drifted wide for 42-16.
However, the hosts’ spirits had not been broken as they came back to score a try – Lorenzo Cannone, one of two brothers in the team, going over.
The scorers’ wrists were becoming weary as the Boks went over for another try, prop Steven Kitshoff crashing over – Libbok converting for 49-21.
Play was brought to a stop for several minutes as Gianmarco Lucchesi had to be stretchered off after his head collided with the hip of Willie Le Roux.
The South Africans still had time to score two more tries.
Le Roux fed Damian Willemse for the first and then a brilliant counter-attack tore the already ragged Italian defence apart with Arendse unselfishly passing to Cobus Reinach to touch down.
Man of the match: Willie le Roux, Cheslin Kolbe, Andre Esterhuizen, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Damian Willemse, Siyamthanda Kolisi, Eben Etzebeth and Albertus Smith all had their moments. The player that made the biggest impact and wins our award is replacement flyhalf Manie Libbok. In only his second Test he looks at home at Test level and brought his own brand of magic to the game.
Moment of the match: You can look at any of the 11 tries in the game, but the most significant in the game was Manie Libbok coming on in the 47th minute – starting the rout that left the Italians bewildered.
Tries: Capuozzo, L Cannone
Pens: Allan 3
For South Africa
Tries: Arendse 2, Mbonambi, Kolbe, Smith, Marx, Kitshoff, Willemse, Reinach
Cons: Kolbe, Libbok 5
Pens: Kolbe 2
Italy: 15 Ange Capuozzo, 14 Pierre Bruno, 13 Juan Ignacio Brex, 12 Luca Morisi, 11 Monty Ioane, 10 Tommaso Allan 9 Stephen Varney; 8 Lorenzo Cannone, 7 Michele Lamaro (captain), 6 Sebastian Negri, 5 Federico Ruzza, 4 Niccolo Cannone, 3 Pietro Ceccarelli, 2 Giacomo Nicotera, 1 Danilo Fischetti.
Replacements: 16 Gianmarco Lucchesi, 17 Ivan Nemer, 18 Simone Ferrari, 19 David Sisi, 20 Manuel Zuliani, 21 Alessandro Garbisi, 22 Edoardo Padovani, 23 Tommaso Menoncello.
South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Damian de Allende, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Francois de Klerk, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Franco Mostert, 6 Siyamthanda Kolisi (captain), 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Retshegofaditswe Nche.
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Eben Etzebeth, 20 Albertus Smith, 21 Evan Roos, 22 Cobus Reinach, 23 Manie Libbok.
Referee: Matthew Carley (England)
Assistant referees: Wayne Barnes (England), Sam Grove-White (Scotland)
TMO: Eric Gauzins (France)
* Additional reporting by AFP