Lucky 13 for Italy as Springboks suffer another humiliation


Italy claimed a stunning first victory over South Africa with a tense 20-18 win in Florence on Saturday that marked another low point in the Springboks' history.

The Springboks, coming off a disappointing Rugby Championship campaign in which they finished third behind New Zealand and Australia, have made a miserable start to their end-of-year tour having drawn with the Barbarians and suffering an emphatic 37-21 loss to England.

And their poor form continued with another underwhelming performance in wet conditions at the Stadio Artemio Franchi as Italy responded superbly to their 68-10 thumping at the hands of the All Blacks last week.

It was the kicking game that made the difference, Italy fly-half Carlo Canna converting both of their tries and adding a penalty while Edoardo Padovani also knocked over a three pointer, with South Africa's failure to convert Bryan Habana's opening score proving pivotal.

The Boks looked to be in for a routine day's work when Habana touched down in the left-hand corner following Willie le Roux's break in the eighth minute, but Italy's response was swift and impressive.

After Pat Lambie had failed to add the extras, Italy got off the mark as South African-born Dries van Schalkwyk went over out wide after a powerful driving maul, the boot of Canna edging the hosts ahead.

Italy pushed to try to extend their lead but were punished for not taking advantage of territory when Damian de Allende sprinted down the right wing for the Boks' second score.

This time Lambie did convert but Padovani kept Italy within striking distance 10 minutes before the break.

Shortly after the restart Italy lock Marco Fuser was sent to the sin bin for taking out Lood de Jager in the air, however, South Africa did not take full advantage of his absence, adding just a single Lambie penalty while he was off the field.

The visitors' profligacy was then punished by wing Giovanbattista Venditti, who powered over for Italy's second try, Canna again successful with the conversion.

Elton Jantjies nudged South Africa back in front on the hour mark, yet the Boks' advantage again proved to be a short-lived one as just four minutes later De Jager was pinged for not rolling away at the ruck and Canna split the uprights to strike what proved to be the decisive blow.

South Africa wasted more opportunities in attacking areas and Italy appeared to have added the finishing touches to a historic win when a driving maul sent Fuser over the line, only for the TMO to rule the forward had stepped into touch.

But it mattered not as Italy won a turnover from the resulting line-out, finally defeating the Boks at the 13th time of asking.