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In the face of Italy adversity the Springboks had to go to ‘that place’ to find their best rugby – Siya Kolisi

In the face of Italy adversity the Springboks had to go to ‘that place’ to find their best rugby - Siya Kolisi

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Cape Town — Springbok captain Siya Kolisi praised the players for the character that they showed to put a difficult week behind them to score nine tries in a comprehensive 63-21 victory over Italy in Genoa on Saturday.

The South Africans trailed 13-8 at one stage in an entertaining first half, and despite not always ending up with points, they kept on taking the fight to the Azzurri by holding onto the ball in attack.

Their perseverance paid off handsomely in the second half as they scored 45 points and conceded just eight to register their first win of the November tour.

The Boks had their backs to the wall ahead of the Italy Test, having lost to Ireland and France, while also seeing Pieter-Steph du Toit receive a three-week suspension and director of rugby Rassie Erasmus a two-match ban.

But the world champions rallied with aplomb at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris with a heady mixture of pace, power and panache to wipe the floor with the Azzurri.

“You say it was a tough press conference (on Friday) … Already mindset-wise, we were in the game. It was a big game for us, and Italy are an amazing team. And I think the way we prepared, we gave them the respect they deserved, as I said yesterday,” Kolisi said after the match.

“They are really a different team to what they were a couple of years ago, and we had to play to the best of our abilities. You saw it was tight in the first half, and we had to dig deep. These things happen — we face adversity all the time. We come from a country where that’s always there, at all times. And we have to use those things to bring ourselves up.

“Like I said yesterday, our focus was just simply in the game. The worst could’ve happened in the week, but we still would’ve focused on the game because it was so important for us to get a win today.

“But play properly and enjoy it — that’s what Jacques (Nienaber) and Rassie told us. Let’s get to that place … What made you start playing rugby? You want to score tries, you want to run with the ball in your hand. You want to offload and put people away.

“And also, South Africans enjoy the physical part of the game, and that’s what we want to do — to bring that balance and bring it all together. And I thought it worked well today.

“But doing it once is not enough. We will have to do it again. Even though we lost the last two games, I really believed we were … heading in the right direction.”

Bok coach Jacques Nienaber echoed Kolisi’s sentiments. “This was a very big game for us. We needed to get momentum back on our tour, and the reality is that we had won zero out of four (including the SA A games),” he said.

“So, this was almost like a final for us, to get momentum back. We gave Italy the respect that they deserve. They are a team that you cannot underestimate — they put Australia away and had a good win over Wales in Cardiff. We prepared very well for them.

“We had plans for the match, and the players were outstanding in executing those plans. I thought there was a good balance in the match.”

Now the Boks will head to London for the final encounter of the tour against England at Twickenham next Saturday (7.30pm SA time kick-off).


Italy 21 – Tries: Ange Capuozzo, Lorenzo Cannone. Conversion: Tommaso Allan (1). Penalties: Allan (3).

South Africa 63 – Tries: Kurt-Lee Arendse (2), Bongi Mbonambi, Cheslin Kolbe, Kwagga Smith, Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Damian Willemse, Cobus Reinach. Conversions: Kolbe (1), Manie Libbok (5). Penalties: Kolbe (2).


IOL Sport

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