Last year's defeated finalists South Africa got off to a winning start against hosts Italy with a 33-5 victory.
The Baby Boks went behind early on to a try from Italy winger Yannick Agbasse, much to the delight of the home fans, but South Africa managed to restore order when hooker Jan van der Merwe went over from a maul.
The two sides were locked in a stalemate for the most of the first half onwards until the hosts went down to 14 men with a yellow card to Davide Zanetti for leading with the shoulder going into a tackle.
Two quick tries for South Africa followed to change the shape of the contest, first from a penalty try after the Italians pulled down their opponents' maul illegally.
Then some aggressive counter-rucking resulted in a score for captain Hanro Liebenberg to give South Africa a 21-5 lead at half-time.
Both sides failed to add more points in the third quarter as Italy tried to find a way back into the match, but South Africa turned back to their major weapon.
Rikus Bothma was the man to crash over next off the back of the rolling maul to bring up a try bonus point for South Africa.
The Baby Boks went down to 14 men late on with a yellow card shown to RG Snyman after too many penalties were conceded.
Replacement prop Frans van Wyk however managed to get on the scoresheet in the final minutes to confirm the result and a strong start to the championship for the 2012 winners.
For South Africa:
Tries: Van der Merwe, Penalty Try, Liebenberg, Bothma, Van Wyk
Cons: Thomson 3, Beer
Yellow Card: Snyman
Yellow Card: Zanetti
South Africa: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Khanyo Ngcukana, 13 Daniel du Plessis, 12 JT Jackson, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Brandon Thomson, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Hanro Liebenberg (c), 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Rikus Bothma, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Abongile Nonkontwana, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Jan van der Merwe, 1 Ox Nche.
Replacements: 16 Joseph Dweba, 17 Njabulo Gumede, 18 Frans van Wyk, 19. Jason Jenkins, 20 Dan du Preez, 21 Marco Jansen van Vuren, 22 Tinus de Beer, 23 Malcolm Jaer.
Italy: 15 Giacomo de Santis, 14 Yannick Agbasse, 13 Pietro Lamaro, 12 Matteo Gabbianelli, 11 Tommaso Beraldinn, 10 Maicol Azzolini, 9 Matteo Ferrari, 8 Matteo Cornelli, 7 Jake Polledri, 6 Marco Lazzaroni, 5 Ugo D’Onofrio, 4 Davide Zanetti, 3 Andrea Cincotto, 2 Luhandre Luus, 1 Paolo Buonfiglio (c).
Replacements: 16 Edoardo Ferraro, 17 Federico Pavesi, 18 Dino Dallavalle, 19 Samuele Ortis, 20 Matteo Archetti, 21 Riccardo Raaffaele, 22 Matteo Minozzi, 23 Luca Sperandio.