The Springboks registered their first win of the Autumn Nations Series in the most convincing fashion, smashing Italy 63-1 at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris in Genoa, Italy on Saturday afternoon.
In the second minute, Italy lashed the ball clear but with no real distance, giving South Africa a great attacking platform. The Boks went to the left from the lineout, Willie Le Roux firing a flat pass to Kurt-Lee Arendse, who took advantage of a slight slip from Ange Capuozzo before tumbling over in the corner. The touchline conversion was missed by Cheslin Kolbe.
A decent kick from the Italians set them up with a lineout in South African territory but it was scrappy work from the hosts in dealing with it. South Africa was penalised at the breakdown, with Tommaso Allan slotting the three points in the eighth minute.
A minute later from the kick-off, the hosts gave away a penalty at the breakdown within a couple of phases and South Africa immediately cancelled out those three points from Kolbe, making the score 8-3 to the visitors.
Two minutes later, the Azzurri won the ball in Springbok territory, with quick hands to the left, where Capuozzo showed his electric acceleration, darting between two defenders, swerving a third and diving over. The tricky conversion near the touchline from Allan was banged through, giving Italy a 10-8 lead.
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In the 20th minute, brilliant defence from the Italians, cut Kolbe down as he retrieved a chip over the top from Allan. Lorenzo Can went straight over the ball, earning a penalty which Allan converted to make the score 13 to eight.
On 26 minutes, Danilo Fischetti was penalised for not rolling away at the breakdown, resulting in a South African penalty. A great kick from the winger saw the South Africans cut Italy's lead to two at 13-11.
A maul from the lineout in the 30th minute trundled infield, from which Bongi Mbonambi darted over to make the scores 16-13. Kolbe slotted the conversion to increase the lead to 18-13.
In the 43rd minute, there was a penalty for the Italians after the Springboks were pinged for offside. Allan took his chance, cutting the South African lead to two.
An extraordinary bit of work came from Kolbe in the 46th minute, chasing down the restart before rising high to claim the ball inside the Italian 22. He went unopposed over for the try but appeared to hurt his hamstring, being subbed off for Manie Libbok. Faf de Klerk, however, missed the conversion with the score at 23-16.
Arendse got a second try not long thereafter as the South Africans upped the tempo ferociously. Libbok coolly slotted the conversion from a tough angle as the Boks raced to a 30-16 lead. At this point, the floodgates were officially open.
Kwagga Smith crashed over to make the score 35-16 before Libbok converted next to the posts to make the score 37-16 as the world champions hit their stride.
The Boks started underlining their dominance from here on. They won a five-metre lineout, with mauling rumbling inevitably towards the try-line, resulting in substitute Malcolm Marx dotting. On this occasion, Libbok missed the conversion, leaving the score at 42-16.
At this point, the match thankfully opened up. End-to-end play with some deft interplay from the hosts Italy saw a cross-kick from Allan, which was collected by Montanna Ioane. He smartly offloaded inside before Cannone picked the ball up from the base of the ruck to crash over to make the score 42-21 for the visitors.
Next, a kick from Grant Esterhuizen had the Italians backing up, with South Africans forcing a turnover. After two phases, replacement prop Steven Kitshoff found himself in space, before crashing over for the try. It was an easy two points for Libbok as the score flew up to 49-21.
There was great strike play from the visitors' scrum for their next score. The Boks threw the ball wide to the left, with Willie Le Roux straightening up the line, before flinging the final pass to fly-half Damian Willemse, who found himself out on the wing and strolling over in the corner. Libbok brilliantly curled the touchline conversion between the posts as the score raced to 56-21.
The performance was underlined sensationally. The impressive Libbok threw a sensational long pass off his left hand that froze the Italy defence, with Kolisi helping it on to the man-of-the-match Arendse, who scythed through the line, drawing the final man and flicking inside to the supporting Cobus Reinach for the run-in. Libbok then added the extras with the final play to make the final score 63-21.