Clinical Springboks ease through
Scorers: South Africa: Tries: Terblanche (26), Seconds (30+2), Watson (50).
Conversions: Terblanche, Montgomery (2).
Scorers: Italy: Try: Delappe (38).
Scoring sequence (Italy first): 0-7, 0-14 (half-time), 7-14, 7-21.
Italy: J Fraser; M Baroni, M Goosen, D Ceppolino, M Stanojevic; R Pez, L Martin; S Peruigini, F Ongaro, C Nieto, S Delappe, E Podesta, M Birtig, R Bergamin, S Palmer. Replacements: F Berzieri, G Balasso, R Cassina, S Saviozzi, P Baratella, F Marango, F Girogerini, F Faggiotto, M Cuttitta.
South Africa: R Kempston; S Terblanche, E Seconds, F Welsh, G Esterhuizen; R Gerber, N Jordaan; K Lensing, D du Preez, A Human, R Strudwick, H Louw, W van Heerden, C van Rensberg, J Boer. Replacements: N Breedt, B Pinock, N Cole, D Heidtmann, J van den Berg, M Watson, R Nutt.
Referee: A Lewis (A Lewis)
South Africa 21
South Africa got the defence of their World Rugby Classic title off to a winning start with a comfortable victory over Italy at North Field, National Sports Centre, yesterday.
Tries from Stefan Terblanche, Ego Seconds and Marc Watson were enough to see them past a limited Italy side, who battled gainfully upfront, but lacked the cutting edge necessary in attack.
The Springboks were far from being at their best either, but they did enough to win, and always gave the impression of having several more gears to go through should it have been necessary. That it took both sides more than 20 minutes to get out of neutral had more to do with the wet and windy conditions than anything else. Knock-ons, dropped passes, and missed line-outs were the order of the day, and while Santiago Delappe, the Italy lock, and Jake Boer, the South Africa No 8, did their best to drive their sides forward, any momentum was often quickly lost.
Still, Italy had the better of the opening exchanges, and Marius Stanojevic, the wing, was presented with a couple of half chances that he should have done better with. Still he made up for it, denying Seconds with a last-ditch tackle after a fine break by Neil Cole, the scrum half, with almost 20 minutes gone.
By that time South Africa were getting into their stride, and with Reinhard Gerber, the fly half, pulling the strings in midfield, the defending champions ran through several phases that put Terblanche in under the posts four minutes before half-time. The full back converted his own try, giving the Springboks a lead they never lost.
They should have lost it almost immediately after but, having done the hard work, Stanojevic and Marco Baroni conspired to drop the ball with the South Africa try line begging, and Seconds sprinted the length of the field to seemingly put the game beyond doubt.
Not ones to go quietly though, Italy briefly made a game of it when Delappe rumbled over from close range shortly after half-time, and might have even drawn level after a break from a line-out by Riccardo Bergamin, the flanker.
Excellent all day, Bergamin got free inside the Springbok 22, off-loaded the ball to Romario Pez, who found himself without much support and was engulfed by a host of Springboks agonisingly short of the line. South Africa are not the defending champions for nothing, and made Italy pay for their wastefulness soon after. Boer again stole the ball at the breakdown, Norman Jordaan, the scrum half, spun it quickly wide, and Watson nipped over in the corner. Percy Montgomery added the second of his conversions, and that was that.
The scrappiness that characterised the early exchanges took its toll on both sides and referee Alan Lewis seemed to be sympathetic to their plight, calling a halt to the game a couple of minutes early.
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