Autumn Nations Series: Nine-try Springboks put Italy to the sword

Kurt-Lee Arendse SA v France ANS - PA.jpg Credit: Alamy
Kurt-Lee Arendse SA v France ANS - PA.jpg Credit: Alamy

South Africa got their Autumn Nations Series campaign back on track when they sealed an impressive 63-21 victory over Italy in Genoa on Saturday.

In a fast-paced and entertaining encounter, the visitors were full value for their win as they soaked up early pressure from their hosts before taking control of proceedings with an outstanding second half display.

The Springboks outscored their hosts by nine tries to two with Kurt-Lee Arendse leading the way with a brace with Bongi Mbonambi, Cheslin Kolbe, Kwagga Smith, Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Damian Willemse and Cobus Reinach crossing for their other five-pointers. Kolbe also succeeded with a couple of penalties and a conversion while Manie Libbok slotted five conversions.

For Italy, Ange Capuozzo and Lorenzo Cannone crossed the whitewash with Tommaso Allan adding 11 points courtesy of three penalties and two conversions.

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The Springboks made the perfect start when Willie le Roux found Arendse with a skip pass out wide close to the home side’s 22. The diminutive flyer still had work to do but did well to outpace the cover defence before diving over in the left-hand corner.

Kolbe failed with the conversion attempt before the Azzurri narrowed the gap with a penalty from Allan five minutes later.

From the restart, Giacomo Nicotera infringed at a breakdown and Kolbe slotted the resulting penalty but Italy struck back shortly afterwards when Capuozzo tore the visitors’ defence to shreds before crossing for a well-taken try. Allan slotted the conversion from close to the touchline which meant the home side were leading 10-8 after 12 minutes.

The next 15 minutes were evenly contested and the scoreboard kept ticking as Allan and Kolbe traded further penalties, before Mbonambi broke away from a Bok maul inside Italy’s 22 and crashed over for his side’s second five-pointer, on the half-hour mark.

Kolbe made no mistake off the kicking tee and although the Azzurri spent some time in the visitors’ 22 during the latter stages of the half, no further points were scored during that period and the teams changed sides with the Boks leading 18-13 at the interval.

The Azzurri drew first blood via another Allan penalty early in the second half but the visitors struck back immediately when Kolbe gathered the restart from under the nose of Luca Morisi and raced away before crossing the whitewash.

That try seemed to reinvigorate the Boks as they upped the ante on attack and shortly afterwards Arendse went over for his second try out wide, after Le Roux and Siya Kolisi laid the groundwork in the build-up.

Libbok, who came on as an injury replacement for Kolbe after his try, slotted the conversion from close to the touchline to score his first international points and with the score 30-16 in their favour, the Boks took more liberties on attack.

Strong Bok finish

Five minutes later, South Africa were rewarded with their fifth try when Smith crashed over from close quarters and they were also rewarded in the 63rd minute when Marx scored his five-pointer off the back of a lineout drive deep inside Italy’s 22.

The home side needed a response and that came courtesy of a brilliant try from Cannone, who rounded off after the ball went through several pairs of hands in the build-up.

Despite that score, the Boks did not take their foot off the pedal and Kitshoff soon crossed for their seventh try, before excellent handling from Andre Esterhuizen, Arendse and Le Roux put Willemse in the clear for his five-pointer.

The visitors were not done and in the game’s dying moments Arendse set off on a mazy run inside the Azzurri’s half before throwing an inside pass to Reinach, who cantered in for his side’s last try which was the final nail in their opponents’ coffin.

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