Springboks vs Italy – 8 June 2013
Durban - The Springboks began their 2013 international season with an emphatic 42-10 win over Italy (half-time 20-0) in their first game of a first ever quadrangular series in South Africa between Scotland, Italy, Samoa and South Africa.
A brilliant Bryan Habana try soothed South African nerves after they had built a 20-point first-half lead, only to have it halved by the hour mark at Kings Park before the veteran right-wing made his mark with a solo score.
Receiving possession inside his half, the France-bound Western Stormers star accelerated down the right wing, cut inside and touched down between the posts with a trail of would-be tacklers in his wake.
Recalled flyhalf Morne Steyn confirmed good goal-kicking form this season with 19 points from five conversions and three penalties as the Springboks made a solid start to a 12-Test season.
The green and gold almost scored within 20 seconds of the start as an Italian mishandled the kick-off ball and left-wing Bjorn Basson was stopped close to the line.
But it did not take much longer for the home side to open their 2013 scoring account with Steyn maintaining superb Super Rugby goal-kicking form by slotting a penalty.
He also succeeded with his second penalty attempt and an Azzurri team under the cosh had lock Marco Bortolami sin binned 12 minutes into his Test return after a one-year injury absence.
All the play was in the Italian half and it came as no surprise when they conceded a try on 14 minutes as hooker Adriaan Strauss touched down after a driving maul from a line-out.
Steyn converted and the Springboks were 13 points ahead just 14 minutes into the match; it got even worse for the visiting side nine minutes later with centre JJ Engelbrecht scored.
Habana created it with a dazzling run from deep in his half before passing to Engelbrecht 35 metres out, and Steyn converted once again.
After barely threatening to score in a first half -which ended with them trailing 20-0- Italy were a much better team in the early stages of the second half.
An 11-phase Azzurri effort indicated that the Italians mean business and they deservedly scored on 47 minutes with South Africa a man short after Basson was sin binned for a high tackle.
The visitors were queuing up to score as the ball was flung wide close to the line and centre Alberto Sgarbi dotted down after eluding Steyn and his half-back partner and new cap Jano Vermaak.
Another debutant -32-year-old Italy- flyhalf Alberto Di Bernardo, atoned for narrowly missing a first-half penalty kick by converting and he cut the deficit to 10 points via a penalty just short of the hour mark.
But the Test took a decisive turn soon after as Steyn kicked his third penalty and Habana set the stadium alight with a try which was converted to give the Springboks a 20-point advantage.
Captain Jean de Villiers and Basson scored late tries as Italy ran out of steam and Steyn converted both, one from the touchline and the other from in front of the posts.
Tries: Adriaan Strauss, JJ Engelbrecht, Bryan Habana, Jean de Villiers, Bjorn Basson
Penalties: Morne Steyn x 3
Conversions:Morne Steyn x 4, Patrick Lambie
Tries: Alberto Sgarbi
Penalties: Alberto di Bernardo
Conversions: Alberto di Bernardo
15 Willie le Roux, 14 Bryan Habana, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Arno Botha, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Beast Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Flip van der Merwe, 20 Marcell Coetzee, 21 Ruan Pienaar, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Jan Serfontein
15 Andrea Masi, 14 Giovanbattista Venditti, 13 Luca Morisi, 12 Alberto Sgarbi, 11 Luke Mclean, 10 Alberto Di Bernardo, 9 Edoardo Gori, 8 Sergio Parisse (captain), 7 Robert Barbieri, 6 Alessandro Zanni, 5 Marco Bortolami, 4 Antonio Pavanello, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Alberto De Marchi
Substitutes: 16 Davide Giazzon, 17 Matias Aguero, 18 Martin Castrogiovanni, 19 Valerio Bernabo, 20 Joshua Furno, 21 Tobias Botes, 22 Luciano Orquera, 23 Tommaso Iannone
Cape Town -- This was touted as the start of a brave new world for the Springboks, with several rookies getting their big break ... instead a nine-year Test veteran stole the thunder.
South Africa’s mostly satisfying, international season-opening 44-10 victory over a motivated Italy at Kings Park on Saturday saw Bryan Habana light the fuse for a welcome, up-tempo performance by the Boks – at least when they got their hands on the ball – and then play a major role in keeping it burning after a slightly worrisome third-quarter spell of sustained dominance by the tourists.
The wing flier turns 30 on Wednesday, and chose his last Test match as a twenty-something to also produce one of the most incisive games of his illustrious career.
Here’s how the Bok starting XV was rated in the media:
15 Willie le Roux: 7.5
Tremendously satisfying debut, and that after the onerous weight of pre-match hype around him! Assertive and refreshingly unpredictable in attacking play, but especially heartening were some defensive moments, like a key tackle on Sergio Parisse and important aerial grab under real pressure behind the try-line.
14 Bryan Habana: 9
Knife through hot butter ... first in sizzling infield burst to set up JJ Engelbrecht for a try, then once more in 66th minute when Boks were badly in need of fresh momentum and he sprinted over majestically himself from Adriaan Strauss’s long overhead pass. Racking up some really decent Bok showings at No 14, out of his more familiar terrain.
13 JJ Engelbrecht: 7.5
Confirmed his consistent appetite and thrust this season at outside centre. Slippery and long-striding with ball in hand, and made his tackles too. Suffered just a tad from composure going AWOL near the try-line on two occasions.
12 Jean de Villiers: 6.5
Desperately overplayed in Super Rugby thus far, and touch-and-go with a hamstring twinge earlier in the week – compelling enough game under those circumstances, including strength and industry on defence and good “at the shoulder” running against left touchline to streak in for own dot-down.
11 Bjorn Basson: 7
Quiet first period through no real fault of his own, quickly followed by high-tackle yellow card (not long after which Italians registered lone try). But got better and better as game progressed. Excellent counter-attacking awareness and opportunism, including try from intercept.
10 Morne Steyn: 7
Slightly less than complete as a No 10 “general” on the day, but give him his due ... the 2013 Steyn certainly has immeasurable amounts of confidence back. Kicked his goals with trademark precision and had some twinkle-toed moments in possession, including deft layoff of occasional inside passes.
9 Jano Vermaak: 6.5
Was giving generally precise, swift service, the scrumhalf’s core value, until his sadly torn hamstring fractionally ahead of the hour-mark. Did get caught in possession around the ruck fringes a few times, but might have been better protected.
8 Pierre Spies: 6
Not great, not awful. Made a busy start, despite an early fumble, and did willing close-quarters work that may have gone undetected by some in the stands. But retained frustrating reputation for becoming too anonymous at times in his key slot.
7 Arno Botha: 7.5
Feverishly energetic for lion’s share of the match, the Bulls man can look back on a strong flank debut. Excellent at halting some Italians mauls, directed the traffic during Boks’ concerted pack rumble for first try, and as ex-Italy coach Nick Mallett observed, made critical tackles when badly needed.
6 Francois Louw: 7
Seldom plays a bad Bok game, and this was no different. Knows the breakdown laws well, so tends to get referees handily in his “corner”. Playing for Bath abroad has clearly only increased his rugby wisdom.
5 Juandre Kruger: 5.5
Has had better Tests. Helped put early pressure on Italian lineout, but receded gradually, and was first tight five call-off (for Bulls team-mate Flip van der Merwe) by Heyneke Meyer as Italians developed a surprising foothold for notable 20 minutes after the break.
4 Eben Etzebeth: 6.5
Supportive giant in mauling play, particularly during first quarter when Boks laid down promising marker, and also made plenty of tackles. But must take some responsibility for a couple of botched home-throw line-outs and slack collective kick-offs management.
3 Jannie du Plessis: 5.5
Still short of best form as supposed scrum anchoring man, and clearly paying a price for over-use at all levels over last 18 months or so.
2 Adriaan Strauss: 7
Began like house on fire, and seemingly unstoppable on the drive ... richly warranted first Bok try from rolling maul. Gave well-judged last pass for Habana’s touchdown much later in contest. Will be disappointed a couple of lineouts went pear-shaped.
1 Tendai Mtawarira: 6
The Beast has gone a bit “south-east” form-wise this year. Nothing like the popular dynamo of old. Got involved in a few early carries and defensive chores, but seemed to tire late on and was part of some back-pedalling set pieces that require attention.
*Most of the substitutes were not on the field for long enough to warrant ratings, although reserve loosehead prop Trevor Nyakane seemed to help notably restore some stability to a wonky scrum for a few minutes near the end.
Prop Martin Castrogiovanni reknown for his strong scrummaging was considered to pose some problems for the Springbok scrum. He came on as a replacement at the hour mark and did ask some qeustions in the scrum.
Italian Captain Sergio Parisse is considered one of the best number eights in world rugby and his match-up with Pierre Spies spurred much pre-match anticipation. He did not dissapoint and had a good game in contrast with Spies who went missing in action.
Eben Etzebeth getting his nuts crunched by a Italian defender.
Francois Louw just too late to stop a pass of the Italian scrumhalf.
Adrian Strauss on the rampage. Strauss was one of the try scorers.
Another try scorer JJ Engelbrecht getting tackled.
Bjorn Basson scoring his try.
Habana going over for his try.
JJ Engelbrecht scoring.