PADOVA – The Springboks gained revenge by scoring five tries to overpower Italy 35-6 at Stadio Euganeo in Padova on Saturday.
The Boks went down 20-18 to the Azzurri in Florence last November, but this time used their big forwards to dominate the physical battle against a lacklustre Italian pack.
Despite an early penalty from home flyhalf Carlo Canna, the Boks made their tactics clear from the outset by using their forwards to run at the Italian defence.
They managed to put a good number of phases together in the 14th minute with several one-off runners bashing away at the line, and eventually flank Francois Louw went over.
Canna kept the Italians in touch with another three-pointer in the 20th minute, but the Boks hit back quickly by kicking a penalty into touch inside the opposition 22, and a five-metre maul saw hooker Bongi Mbonambi forcing his way over in his first Test start.
The South Africans lost prop Tendai Mtawarira to injury in the 28th minute, but replacement Steven Kitshoff added a new dynamic in the scrums and tight-loose.
Allister Coetzee’s team stuck to their guns in the wet conditions by keeping the ball close to their forwards, and off the solid platform, flyhalf Handré Pollard launched a cross-kick that was fumbled by Italy, and Francois Venter claimed the loose ball to dive over.
Canna missed a penalty shot just before halftime, and that was the last opportunity Italy had of getting points on the board.
The home side often made it to inside the Springbok 22, but never looked like scoring as they ran out of ideas against a resolute South African defence.
A 21-6 halftime lead soon turned into a 28-6 advantage for the visitors. Another five-metre lineout maul from the Boks resulted in Kitshoff peeling away to go over, and the game was over as a contest at that point.
The Boks appeared to go through the motions for most of the second half as they kept the Italians at bay, and they rounded off a satisfactory afternoon with a late touchdown by replacement lock Franco Mostert.
Italy 6 – Penalties: Carlo Canna (2).
South Africa 35 – Tries: Francois Louw, Bongi Mbonambi, Francois Venter, Steven Kitshoff, Franco Mostert. Conversions: Handré Pollard (4), Elton Jantjies (1).