The Springboks outclassed Italy not only on the scoreboard but also with their refusal to get riled up by the Azzurri’s spoiling tactics in Friday’s lopsided Rugby World Cup clash in Shizuoka, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.
The Springboks’ maturity matched their physical dominance in the 49-3 bonus-point triumph. Fiery intensity has always fuelled the Green and Gold machine. Every now and then, that fire sparks a flame that proves counterproductive as emotions get the better of some and spill over into moments of madness.
The showdown at Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa showed just how headstrong the Springboks have become under Rassie Erasmus. They were cool, calm and clinical, despite Italy’s best efforts to get under their skin.
A picture of focus and class, they overwhelmed the Azzurri with power and precision in the opening quarter to set the tone for the remainder of the do-or-die Pool B battle.
They dominated the set pieces and outgunned the Italians at the breakdown, advantages that coupled with accuracy, allowed for high-octane offence that threatened a rout.
The message was clear; there was going to be no repeat of the Horror of Florence (when Italy recorded a historic 20-18 win in 2016), and although Siya Kolisi and company didn’t fully capitalise on their strong start – leading just 10-3 after the opening 20 minutes – the gulf between the sides was clear.