Cheslin Kolbe was on form in the Springboks win over Italy in Shizuoka on Friday. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

CAPE TOWN – South Africa's Springboks ground out a workmanlike 49-3 win over 14-man Italy in their RWC Pool B match at the Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan, on Friday.
 
The Springboks led 17-3 at the break and once Italy were reduced to 14 players just two minutes in the second half, the match was as good as over as a contest.
 
Italy's woes started as early as the 2nd minute when prop Simone Ferrari cried off injured and was replaced by Marco Riccioni.
 
A 5th-minute line-out just inside Italy's 22m provided the platform for the Springboks' opening try. Once the ball was relayed along the backline, it was left to right-wing Cheslin Kolbe to work his magic out wide. He did so with deft side-stepping before crossing the whitewash.
 
Springbok pivot Handré Pollard added the conversion for a 7-0 lead. With this kick, Pollard passed a career milestone as it brought up his 400th point in Test rugby.
 
Pollard's opponent Tommaso Allan (the nephew of former Springbok and Scotland hooker John Allan) opened Italy's scoring in the match with an 8th-minute penalty (7-3). Three minutes later Pollard restored the 7-point lead with his first penalty (10-3).
 
In the 18th-minute replacement tighthead prop left the field for a HIA (head injury assessment) and from that point onwards all scrums were uncontested. This adjustment robbed the Springboks of a potent weapon and possibly a penalty-winning tool.

 
The Springboks' near-unstoppable driving mauls came into play in the 26th minute when hooker Bongo Mbonambi round off by breaking clear just ahead of the tryline. Pollard's conversion, as it turned, was the final score in the first half (17-3).

However, the Springboks did come to light with a strong finish but were unable to add to their score in the face of desperate defence by Italy.
 
The 2nd minute of second-half play saw Italy loosehead Andrea Lovotti given his marching orders for his role in a foul play on Duane Vermeulen, the Springbok No 8. With a one-man numerical advantage, it was only a matter of time before Springboks would capitalise.
 
Two minutes later, Springbok flank Pieter-Steph du Toit scored but the score was cancelled after replays showed that captain Siya Kolisi had obstructed Italy's defence.
 
After Pollard had struck a second penalty (20-3), the BlitzBokke star Kolbe ran in for his second try after picking up a Pollard crosskick. The try went unconverted (25-3)
 
The Springboks kept the score going at regular intervals after reinforcements off the substitutes’ bench arrived to provide impact. First to capitalise was outside centre Lukhanyo Am was next in for a converted try, just ahead of the hour mark (32-3).
 
Fullback Willie le Roux opened the way for the next score with a deft chip kick which leftwing Makazole Mapimpi scooped up to run virtually unchallenged for a converted try (39-3).
 
Five minutes from the end, Kolbe's pressure on Italian fullback Matteo Minozzi produced a fumble and substitute lock RG Snyman was up in a flash to collect the stray ball and score an unconverted try (44-3).
 
Two minutes after the hooter had sounded the Springboks' driving maul again came to the fore and this time substitute hooker Malcolm Marx was the try scorer. Just when the prospect of a 50-pointer loomed, Pollard pushed the conversion attempt wide (49-3).
Scorers

South Africa 49 (17): 

Tries: Cheslin Kolbe (2), Bongi Mbonambi, Lukhanyo Am, Makazole Mapimpi, RG Snyman and Malcolm Marx. 

Conversions: Handré Pollard (4). Penalties: Pollard (2)

Italy 3 (3): 

Penalty: Tommaso Allan 

African News Agency (ANA)