Planet Rugby

South Africa stamp their authority

26th June 2010 13:39

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Morne Steyn mobbed

Morne Steyn: Another fine display

South Africa banished last week's disappointing victory over Italy from memory with a 55-11 thrashing of the Azzurri on Saturday.

Leading only 27-6 at the break - almost identical to last week - the Boks kept up the momentum in the second half, racking up three more second-half tries as they proved simply too powerful for their guests in East London.

Yet there could still be some lingering dissatisfaction at this Springbok performance. Their power advantage up front was huge - it was like a monster truck going head-to-head with a Fiat Uno at times - but despite the amount of front foot ball the backs just did not really get going.

The finest handling movement of the first half came from the forwards when Pierre Spies scored his try. That may not matter against the Italys of this world but it will against the Australias and New Zealands.

It is a playing style and it worked here, but South African fans ought to be mildly - mildly - concerned that outside Morne Sten, there really didn't seem to be any threat at all.

As far as Italy go... well, they'll have learned a bit more. The way the team kept diligently to its task and kept its shape in defence and attack, well enough to fashion a fine try for young wing Michele Sepe in the second half and stop the South African driving maul from forming, again goes to show the strides made under Nick Mallett. Yet it is questionable whether there is enough latent talent in the team to develop any further beyond this. Italy still awaits a couple more players with a little something extra.

Sergio Parisse is one of those kinds of player, but the problem is at the moment, he is trying to do far too much. Twice in this match he attempted to launch Zinzan Brooke-style drop goals, neither of which worked in the slightest.

At other times - including a memorable sidestep of Bryan Habana - he was scintillating, an adjective that could be applied to nobody else on the field.

Steyn got the home side off to a good start with an early penalty but that was cancelled out by one from Mirco Bergamasco as Italy asserted themselves at the scrum.

But it was the Bok forwards who asserted their authority in the loose, with a 20m driven maul providing the platform for Steyn to shimmy and go for his team's first try.

A high tackle by Schalk Burger on Manoa Vosawai - when will Burger learn - enabled Bergamasco to pull it back to 10-6, but with Pierre Spies, Francois Louw, Burger and Andries Bekker all striding purposefully forward and giving Ricky Januarie a stream of easy ball, Italy began to be worn down.

Stayen extended the lead to 20-6, with a penalty and then a try from Bryan Habana's offload, which he converted himself. Then, shortly before half-time, the try of the match: a neat straight-angled run from Bekker, a pass out to Spies and the number eight left winger Bergamasco trailing in his wake. Steyn made it 27-6.

Italy defended well in the second half against a Springbok side intent on bashing down all doors, but it could not be withstood for ever. Jannie du Plessis and Flip van der Merwe both finished off forward charges with close-range tries, while Bryan Habana finished off a neat blindside move involving Steyn once again.

Italy manufactured a face-saving score for Michele Sepe as South Africa's replacements halted momentum, but BJ Botha profited from more foward supremacy with the final movement of the game, again plunging over from close range.

Man of the match: He left early, but he was the clear difference between the teams in the first half. Take a bow Morne Steyn.

Moment of the match: Sergio Parisse produced several moments of skill, but his break down the left off a line-out stood out - not least for skinning Bryan Habana!

Villain of the match: The singer of the Italian national anthem for that shirt, and the stadium security, for allowing vuvuzelas into the stadium. When will they give up on those silly trumpets?

The scorers:

For South Africa:
Tries: Steyn 2, Spies, Du Plessis, Habana, Van der Merwe, BJ Botha
Cons: Steyn 5, Pienaar 2
Pens: Steyn 2

For Italy:
Try: Sepe
Pens: Bergamasco 2

South Africa: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Jean de Villiers, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Juan de Jongh, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 MornÚ Steyn, 9 Ricky Januarie, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Schalk Burger, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 John Smit (c), 1 Gurthr÷ Steenkamp.
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 BJ Botha, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Dewald Potgieter, 20 Ruan Pienaar, 21 Butch James, 22 Wynand Oliver.

Italy: 15 Luke McLean, 14 Michele Sepe, 13 Gonzalo Canale, 12 Andrea Masi, 11 Mirco Bergamasco, 10 Craig Gower, 9 Simon Picone, 8 Sergio Parisse (c), 7 Manoa Vosawai, 6 Paul Derbyshire, 5 Marco Bortolami, 4 Carlo Antonio Del Fava, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Fabio Ongaro, 1 Salvatore Perugini.
Replacements: 16 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 17 Franco Sbaraglini, 18 Quintin Geldenhuys, 19 Alessandro Zanni, 20 Tito Tebaldi, 21 Riccardo Bocchino, 22 Matteo Pratichetti.

Referee: Keith Brown (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Andrew Small (England), Andy Macpherson (Scotland)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)

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