The Springboks got their 2013 international season up and running with a five-try 44-10 victory over Italy at Kings Park on Saturday.
A clinical South Africa got their 2013 international season up and running with a five-try 44-10 victory over Italy at Kings Park in Durban on Saturday.
Adriaan Strauss, JJ Engelbrecht, Bryan Habana, Jean de Villiers and Bjorn Basson were the try scorers for the Springboks, who blooded a few new players for their opener of this four-team series with Scotland, Samoa and the Azzurri.
Willie le Roux was one newbie under the spotlight as his form for the Cheetahs was rewarded by South Africa head coach Heyneke Meyer. And despite a few early hiccups, his attack-minded approach came to the fore and kept Italy busy.
The hosts started the match strongly as Strauss and Engelbrecht both scored inside the first 23 minutes, but they had to wait a while for more.
The Azzurri's solo try came courtesy of Alberto Sgarbi during a resurgent second-half effort.
The hosts made a lively start and almost scored in the first minute after an error by their opponents at the kick-off, but Basson was bundled into touch.
However, great work from Bok flank Francois Louw moments later allowed Morne Steyn, who scored 17 points, to kick his team in front with a penalty right in front of the uprights.
The lead was doubled in the ninth minute when Leonardo Ghiraldini failed to release.
The visitors' early troubles worsened in the 13th minute as veteran lock Marco Bortolami was shown yellow by French referee Pascal Gauzere after entering a ruck from the side.
From the subsequent penalty line-out, Strauss carried the ball over from the back of a maul.
Meyer's men further capitalised on their numerical advantage in the 23rd minute when Habana latched onto a bouncing ball in his own 22-metre area, sliced through a big hole in the Italian defence and passed outside to Engelbrecht to run in his first points for the Boks.
Italy should have at least pulled a try back shortly after when Edoardo Gori knocked on five metres out, while debutant fly-half Alberto Di Bernardo missed a straightforward penalty.
South Africa continued to venture forward in the closing passage of the half, although the Azzurri showed more signs of settling into matters, with the score 20-0 at the interval.
Things began to pick up for Italy in the early stages of the second-half and when Basson was shown a yellow card for a high tackle, they had a numerical advantage for ten minutes.
Sgarbi made the most of that three minutes later, going over off a nice under-leg pass from captain and number eight Sergio Parisse. Di Bernardo added the extra two points and then a further three which brought the lead down to just ten points with a quarter of the game left.
But the Springboks showed their superior quality in the end as scores from Habana, De Villiers and finally Basson added the gloss on a decent first outing in their 2013 season.
Man of the match: Always an option and hunting work off the shoulder of players, Bryan Habana was superb once again for South Africa. Deserving of his try and this accolade.
Moment of the match: We'll go for Italy captain Sergio Parisse's under-leg pass to Alberto Sgarbi. He rarely has a bad game and was again solid for the Azzurri. We must say that Bjorn Basson's assist for Jean de Villiers' try was also out of the top drawer.
Villain of the match: Nothing too filthy to report.
For South Africa:
Tries: Strauss, Engelbrecht, Habana, De Villiers, Basson
Con: Steyn 4, Lambie
Pen: Steyn 3
Con: Di Bernardo
Pen: Di Bernardo
South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Bryan Habana, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jean de Villiers (c), 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 MornÃ© Steyn, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Arno Botha, 6 Francois Louw, 5 JuandrÃ© Kruger, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 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.
Italy: 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 (c), 7 Robert Barbieri, 6 Alessandro Zanni, 5 Marco Bortolami, 4 Antonio Pavanello, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Alberto De Marchi.
Replacements: 16 Davide Giazzon, 17 Matias Aguero, 18 Martin Castrogiovanni, 19 Valerio Bernabo, 20 Joshua Furno, 21 Tobias Botes, 22 Luciano Orquera, 23 Tommaso Iannone.
Referee: Pascal GauzÃ¨re (France)
Assistant referees: Nigel Hennessy (Wales), Blake Beattie (South Africa)