Monday, June 21, 2010
South Africa looked disjointed and lethargic as they beat tourists Italy 29-13 in Witbank in what was the first of a two-test series between the two sides ahead of the Tri Nations.
The Springboks managed to score four tries but seemed to be affected by the change in personnel as they failed to find their rhythm against an impressive Italian outfit who had the better of the territory and possession early in the match.
"I don't think we played very well and we made too many basic errors. We'll work on that and next week will definitely be better. It's just the top three inches that we have to get right, said stand in Springbok captain, Victor Matfield.
Returning Bath flyhalf Butch James played fairly well in parts but managed to get himself yellow carded for a high and reckless tackle. During that time, Italian captain Sergio Parisse crossed for a great try that was set up by the break of Tito Tebaldi.
"I'm happy about the enthusiasm of my team, especially in the second half," Parisse said. "We're looking forward to the second test next week in East London. For us, it's very difficult to play South Africa, but it's the best way to build ahead of next year's World Cup."
Italy coach Nick Mallet will look slightly different next week after he lost a bet with his players. He challenged them that if they got within 20 points, hed shave his head.
"The next time you see me, itll be with shorter hair," said the former Springbok coach.
"I'm very proud of the guys. If you look at last week the French conceded 42 points to the Springboks so this gives some perspective to our efforts," Mallet said.
He did admit South Africa werent quite on song though. "Rugby is a strange game It's very tough for players to be 100 per cent every week," he said.
Springbok coach Peter De Villiers promised that things will be sorted out by next week.
"We have to sit down, identify and rectify where we went wrong today. The scrum was good but the individual skills of some players was down and that was disappointing.
"We set very high standards for ourselves and that contributes to our unhappiness. Next week we will be a better side," he said.