Luca Sighinolfi/INPHO Damian de Allende and Damian Willemse.
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Springboks rebound from Ireland and France defeats with win over Italy
The Italians were excellent in the first half but couldn’t stay with the Boks after the break.

WORLD CHAMPIONS SOUTH Africa secured their first win of the Autumn Nations Series as they eased to a 63-21 thrashing of Italy.

The Italians, coming off an historic win over Australia last Saturday, more than held their own in the first half with the Springboks only leading 18-13 at the break.

However, three quickfire South African tries early in the second half ensured the hosts would not repeat the shock win over them in Florence in 2016.

It was the best possible response to their two narrow defeats to Ireland (19-16) and France (30-26).

The only concern for the Springboks ahead of their final Test of the tour against England next Saturday will be wing Cheslin Kolbe, who went off after scoring a try with what appeared to be a right thigh injury.

The visitors came out firing on all cylinders and struck inside two minutes — Kurt-Lee Arendse had far too much pace for Luca Morisi going over in the corner.

Italy fly-half Tommaso Allan and Kolbe exchanged penalties in a frenetic opening 10 minutes before the hosts took the lead with a wonderful try.

Full-back Ange Capuozzo was the executor.

The Toulouse star received a wonderful pass from prop Danilo Fischetti and then produced a delightful jink to side-step Kolbe, running in from 20 metres out to touch down for his fifth try in just seven Tests.

Allan converted for 10-8 and added a penalty in the 21st minute to extend their lead to five points.

Kolbe replied with a penalty of his own to pull the world champions to within two points of the hosts.

A thrilling back and forth encounter saw the Boks go back in front just after the half hour mark — hooker Bongi Mbonambi forcing his way over for his 12th try for his country. Kolbe converted for 18-13.

cheslin-kolbe-scores-a-try Luca Sighinolfi / INPHO Kolbe was injured while scoring a superb try. Luca Sighinolfi / INPHO / INPHO

Allan got the first points of the second period slotting over a penalty but the Boks struck back from the resulting kick-off.

Kolbe outjumped Morisi and then going over for the try — however in doing so he suffered the injury that forced him off.

Faf de Klerk missed the conversion to leave the visitors 23-16 up.

They moved to 30-16 within minutes as a quickfire passing move saw captain Siya Kolisi feed Arendse and the wing went in for his second of the match.

Replacement Manie Libbok landed a superb conversion from the touchline.

The South Africans were in clinical mode now and stretched their lead further as Kwagga Smith went over for a try — Libbok converting for 37-16.

Replacemenent hooker Malcolm Marx added another try as the Springboks disappeared over the horizon — Libbok’s conversion drifted wide for 42-16.

However, the hosts’ spirits had not been broken as they came back to score a try — Lorenzo Cannone, one of two brothers in the team, going over.

The scorers’ wrists were becoming weary as the Boks went over for another try, prop Steven Kitshoff crashing over — Libbok converting for 49-21.

Play was brought to a stop for several minutes as Gianmarco Lucchesi had to be stretchered off after his head collided with the hip of Willie Le Roux.

The South Africans still had time to score two more tries.

Le Roux fed Damian Willemse for the first and then a brilliant counter-attack tore the already ragged Italian defence apart with Arendse unselfishly passing to Cobus Reinach to touch down.

– © AFP 2022

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