|2019 Rugby World Cup Pool B: South Africa v Italy|
|South Africa (17) 49|
|Tries: Kolbe 2, Mbonambi, Am, Mapimpi, Snyman, Marx Cons: Pollard 4 Pens: Pollard 2|
|Italy (3) 3|
South Africa recorded a routine bonus-point win over 14-man Italy in Shizuoka to keep their World Cup hopes alive.
Handre Pollard converted tries from Cheslin Kolbe and Mbongeni Mbonambi, and added a penalty to put the Springboks 17-3 up at the break.
After the Azzurri had prop Andrea Lovotti sent off for a tip-tackle, Kolbe crossed for his second score.
Lukhanyo Am, Makazole Mapimpi, RG Snyman and Malcolm Marx also went over as South Africa went top of Pool B.
The two-time winners know victory in their final pool match against Canada on Tuesday (11:15 BST) is likely to be enough to secure a quarter-final berth, with Italy facing holders New Zealand in their last game on Saturday, 12 October.
Springboks come through test of nerve
Having lost 23-13 to the All Blacks in their opening match of the tournament, South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus admitted the meeting with Italy was «do or die» for his side.
But the Boks, who were one of the pre-tournament favourites, had any nerves settled by Kolbe’s early try when the winger beat two men to touch down in the right-hand corner.
The contest was expected to be a battle between the forwards but Italy lost both their tight-head props, Simone Ferrari and Marco Riccioni, to injury in the first half, leading to uncontested scrums for the final hour.
Pollard missed three conversions but he set up Kolbe’s second try with a cross-kick and scored 14 points on the night to become the highest points-scorer for the Springboks at the Rugby World Cup, surpassing Percy Montgomery’s previous record.
South Africa pushed home their advantage after Lovotti was sent off early in the second half for his part in an ugly tip-tackle on number eight Duane Vermeulen but will have concerns over the fitness of Kolbe, who picked up an ankle injury in a tackle in the closing stages.
The Springboks will have bigger challenges to come but have kept themselves in the hunt in a bid to add to their triumphs in 1995 and 2007.
Ill discipline costs Azzurri
Italy had picked up maximum points from their first two pool games against Namibia and Canada, and knew that victory would eliminate the Springboks from the competition.
The Azzurri were unable to capitalise when they did venture into South African territory in the first half, with quick defensive line speed and powerful tackling forcing Conor O’Shea’s side back.
The Six Nations outfit had only won one of their previous 14 matches against South Africa, and any chance of a comeback was extinguished when loose-head prop Lovotti was shown red by referee Wayne Barnes three minutes into the second half.
Italy had been awarded a penalty in the South Africa 22 but after the whistle was blown Lovotti and fellow prop Nicola Quaglio picked up Vermeulen and dropped him headfirst to the floor – with Quaglio lucky not to also be dismissed for his part in the incident.
The game then slipped away from the Italians as veteran number eight Sergio Parisse – who won his 142nd cap, making him the second most-capped player in Test history – was unable to inspire his side.
Italy have participated in every World Cup but have never qualified for the quarter-finals and their wait for a last-eight berth is likely to go on unless they can pull off a first-ever win over New Zealand in Toyota a week on Saturday.
South Africa: Le Roux; Kolbe, Am, De Allende, Mapimpi; Pollard, De Klerk; Mtawarira, Mbonambi, Malherbe, Etzebeth, De Jager, Kolisi (capt), Du Toit, Vermeulen.
Replacements: Marx, Kitshoff, Koch, Snyman, Mostert, Louw, H Jantjies, Steyn.
Italy: Minozzi; Benvenuti, Morisi, Hayward, Campagnaro; Allan, Tebaldi; Lovotti, Bigi, Ferrari, Sisi, Budd, Steyn, Polledri, Parisse (capt).
Replacements: Zani, Quaglio, Riccioni, Zanni, Ruzza, Negri, Braley, Canna.
Red card: Lovotti (43).
Referee: Wayne Barnes (Eng).