‘They’re going to be difficult to stop. The truth is that the Boks are a powerful and well-structured unit and they are going to be formidable going forward.’
That was the reaction of the Italy coach O’Shea who felt that the Boks will challenge some of the better sides in the knockout phase after they beat his team 49-3 in the must-win match for both teams as they sought a place in the play-offs.
But the Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus wasn’t quite as enamored as O’Shea, although he was especially happy that the team turned up physically. ‘In that sense we got we wanted from this match,’ he told the media after the match.
‘We felt in the previous five or six Tests this year it hadn’t been really consistent but I think in this match our physicality – which is one of our strengths – was there consistently throughout the game and I am really proud about that,’ said Erasmus.
He added that that’s what’s needed if the Springboks want to go all the way in this tournament.’
‘Tactically and technically there were definitely some mistakes and errors but I think the way the guys pitched physically was what we wanted to get out of this game.
‘We definitely have to get better on the attacking side,’ Erasmus conceded, but added that attack was not one of the big worries. ‘We’re pretty happy with the number of points we’re putting on the scoreboard.’
♦ It was a bruising match which was affected negatively by injuries to both Italian tighthead props by the 19th minute and uncontested scrums were called.
This took away South Africa’s ability to force penalties, kick for position and then do what they do o well with their forwards.
A red card to their loosehead prop, Andrea Lovotti, early in the second half also affected the structure of the math with Italy continuing their early negative play.
Erasmus said the thought the Springboks were better at scrum time against a good Italian pack until it went uncontested. ‘I thought we were good at mauling; we were good at the breakdown in the physical areas but surprisingly we were bad at discipline on defence.’
South Africa (17) 49: Tries: Cheslin Kolbe (2), Bongi Mbonambi, Lukhanyo Am, Makazole Mapimpi, RG Snyman, Malcolm Marx. Conversions: Handre Pollard (4). Penalties: Pollard (2).
Italy (3) 3: Penalty: Tommaso Allan.