Rugby Rugby

Five-try Springboks tame Italy

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South African scrum-half Ross Cronje (C) is tackled by Italian second row Marco Fuser (L) and tighthead prop Simone Ferrari (R) during their match on November 25, 2017 © AFP / MIGUEL MEDINA

PADUA, Italy, Nov 25 – South Africa scored five tries to tame Italy 35-6 in terrible conditions in Padua on Saturday, avenging last year’s historic defeat by the Azzurri.

Eben Etzebeth’s side produced a powerful forward performance against a weak Italian side who only managed two penalties under the rain in north-eastern Italy.

Francois Louw, Bongi Mbonambi, Francois Venter, Steven Kitshoff and Franco Mostert all touched down for the Springboks, with man of the match Handre Pollard converting four tries and replacement Elton Jantjies adding the fifth conversion.

“They were too strong for us, above all physically,” conceded Italy coach Conor O’Shea. “Their forwards are on another level. Our first 20 minutes were good and I remain confident but South Africa are better.”

The win will be a welcome relief for under-pressure South Africa coach Allister Coetzee who has rebuilt his side since last November’s 20-18 defeat with just five players from that dark day in Florence playing this time out.

It gives the Springboks a boost heading to Wales next weekend after edging France 18-17 in Paris last week following a 38-3 mauling by Ireland in Dublin on November 11.

Coetzee’s side proved solid despite the testing conditions, building on a comfortable 21-6 lead at the break, with Warrick Gelant coming on for his Test debut in the final 20 minutes.

Sergio Parisse and his Italy teammates had challenged in the first ten minutes with fly-half Carlo Canna putting the hosts on the scoreboard first.

But after a strong period of attack South Africa touched down two tries from Louw and Mbonambi, with Italy suffering faced with the visitors’ superior strength.

Pollard’s return to kicking form proved well-timed as he provided a key link with the Springboks backline.

Canna missed a chance for a third penalty in slippery conditions just before the break, but despite possession for long periods Italy never looked like scoring.

South Africa controlled play with their powerful scrumming and mauling performance for their biggest win in Italy since 1997.

It is the second straight defeat for Italy after losing 31-15 to Argentina in Florence last weekend.

The Italians had ended a series of nine consecutive losses going back to their win over South Africa by winning their opening November Test against Fiji 19-10 in Sicily.

“It’s a pity we couldn’t build on our good start to the match,” said captain Parisse.

“Defeat is difficult but these three weeks were very positive for the future.

“A group has been built, we’re working well, I remain confident. But the results speak for themselves and we can’t be satisfied with a defeat like today.”

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