RUGBY: Brilliant Boks Beat Italy in 1st Tour Victory
RUGBY: Brilliant Boks Beat Italy in 1st Tour Victory. Pictured Kurt Lee Arendse. Photo: SA Rugby

Seven sensational second-half tries, with Kurt-Lee Arendse grabbing a brace in a Man of the Match performance, saw the Springboks record a 63-21 win over Italy in Genoa on Saturday, to get their first victory of the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour this month.

The big win was the Springboks’ first of their tour of the Northern Hemisphere following two narrow losses to Ireland and France in the last fortnight.

The 63 points scored by the Boks, is the most against the Azzurri since South Africa won by 101-0 in Durban back in 1999, and it’s also their highest score in Italy.

It was also the biggest winning margin under Jacques Nienaber as head coach, surpassing the 40-9 win over Georgia in his first Test in charge in 2021, and the Boks’ biggest win since beating Canada 66-7 at the Rugby World Cup in 2019.


The first half saw some enterprising rugby from both sides, with the Springboks scoring two tries, a conversion and a penalty goal which handed them a 18-13 halftime lead. The home side replied with a converted try and two penalty goals.

The Springboks cut loose in the second half though, to outscore the home side by seven tries to one, displaying some beautiful attacking play to halt the Azzurri in their tracks.

That was mainly due to the introduction of the powerful Bomb Squad – the replacement forwards – early in the second half, which injected extra energy into the Bok pack.

Manie Libbok, coming on as a second-half replacement for the injured Cheslin Kolbe, slotted in impressively into the flyhalf position (with Damian Willemse moving to right wing) and kicked five conversions to add to his good distributing skills.

Arendse was impressive with ball in hand as his Test tally moved to six tries in as many appearance, while the former Blitzbok speedster also made a great all-round contribution, and he was deservingly awarded the Man of the Match accolade.

Bongi Mbonambi on the way to the try-line.
GENOA, ITALY – NOVEMBER 19: Bongi Mbonambi of South Africa takes on Luca Morisi of Italy during the 2022 Castle Lager Outgoing Tour match between Italy and South Africa at Stadio Luigi Ferraris on November 19, 2022 in Genoa, Italy. (Photo by Roberto Bregani/Gallo Images)

It was the livewire Arendse who broke the cover defence and scored out wide with hardly two minutes on the clock to hand SA a good start from a move initiated by Willemse.

Italy responded with a penalty goal four minutes later, when Springbok midfielder Andre Esterhuizen was penalised at the breakdown.

Tommaso Allan, the Italian pivot, made no mistake with the straight-forward kick to put the home side on the board, but moments later, Bok skipper Siya Kolisi pinned Italian hooker Giacomo Nicotera with a good tackle, winning a penalty in the process, and Kolbe stepped up to add the three to hand SA the 8-3 lead.

But the Italians duly scored straight from the kick-off when their outstanding young fullback Ange Capuozzo cut through the Bok defence to score in the corner with a stunning finish. Allan added the conversion to edge Italy 10-8 ahead, with the home fans now in fine voice.

Allan and Kolbe traded penalty goals to change the score to 13-11 before Bongi Mbonambi went over after a wave of Bok attacks, with the hooker breaking away from the maul to score his third try against Italy as the South Africans regained the lead.

Kolbe added the extras to give the SA side a five-point advantage at 18-13, which is how it stayed until the break.

Minutes after the restart another Allan penalty goal closed the gap to 18-16, but the Springboks then decided to put the foot to the pedal to surge into an impressive, profiting period of play.

Kolbe won the ball from the restart and raced clear to score the Boks’ third try. However, the Bok dynamo injured his hamstring in the process and was replaced by Libbok, who took over at flyhalf with Willemse moving to the wing.

Damian Willemse goes over for the Boks' eighth try in Genoa.
GENOA, ITALY – NOVEMBER 19: Damian Willemse of South Africa runs to score try during the 2022 Castle Lager Outgoing Tour match between Italy and South Africa at Stadio Luigi Ferraris on November 19, 2022 in Genoa, Italy. (Photo by Roberto Bregani/Gallo Images)

Libbok then started to pull the strings as the Bok forwards provided him with a great attacking platform and he initiated a counter-attack to offload the ball cleverly, which resulted in a second try for Arendse. The replacement flyhalf kicked the conversion over from the touchline to take the score to 30-16.

With the Springbok Bomb Squad now on the pitch, the South Africans upped the tempo considerably to put Italy under all sorts of pressure.

Replacement flanker Kwagga Smith was the recipient of some clever lineout play when he was on hand to take the ball and force his way over next to the poles for a converted try, making it 37-16, and then Malcolm Marx, on for Mbonambi, also got in on the try-scoring act when he dotted down after another powerful lineout maul to stretch the Boks’ lead to 42-16.

But the home refused to go away and their impressive No 8 and captain, Lorenzo Cannone, went over for the blue jerseys’ only second-half try which reduced the SA lead to 42-21.

However, the Boks weren’t done yet.

Replacement prop Steven Kitshoff then scored his second international try following more clever forwards-interplay, with Libbok adding the extras as the Springboks edged further ahead to 49-21 with 10 minutes remaining.

Willemse got their eighth try of the afternoon as the Springboks went past the 50-point mark in a move that went coast-to-coast. Libbok managed to squeeze the conversion past the upright to take the score to 56-21 with just six minutes remaining.

That, however, was enough time for replacement scrumhalf Cobus Reinach to make it nine tries in total for Siya Kolisi’s men when he took a pass from the impressive Arendse to dive over near the poles. Libbok kicked his fifth conversion to make the final score 63-21 for a great South African triumph.

The Springboks conclude their end of year tour next week when they face England at Twickenham.

Scorers:

Springboks 63 (18) – Tries: Kurt-Lee Arendse (2), Bongi Mbonambi, Cheslin Kolbe, Kwagga Smith, Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Damian Willemse, Cobus Reinach. Conversions: Kolbe, Manie Libbok (5). Penalty goals: Kolbe (2).

Italy 21 (13) – Tries: Ange Capuozzo, Lorenzo Cannone. Conversions: Tommaso Allan. Penalty goals: Allan (3).

Source: SARugby