Rassie Erasmus believes that South Africa ‘ticked a box’ with their uncompromising physical performance against Italy. JON CARDINELLI at Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa reports.
The Boks cruised to 49-3 win over Italy in Shizuoka on Friday. The result should see South Africa finishing ahead of Italy in the Pool B standings and securing a World Cup quarter-final berth.
Erasmus declared himself satisfied with the performance when he addressed the media after the game. While he conceded that the team made too many attacking errors in the first half, there were other notable signs of progress.
‘We’ve been in playoff mode the whole week and have made the point about maintaining our intensity. We ticked that box with the performance against Italy,’ the Bok coach said.
‘It wasn’t a perfect performance. We got a few things wrong tactically and technically. There were definitely a few errors, but the guys pitched up physically and in that sense we got we wanted from this match.
‘That’s what’s needed if South Africa want to go all the way in this tournament. We’ve seen some physical performances by the Boks this season, but not consistently physical performances as the one we produced against Italy.’
Erasmus reiterated that the Boks would stick to their own plan rather than emulate what the All Blacks or any other side are doing at present.
‘We definitely have to get better on the attacking side on things. However, when you think about it, New Zealand scored nine tries in their last match, and we also scored nine when we played Namibia. We scored a lot of tries against Italy [seven]. We’re right up there in the tournament for tries and points scored.
‘So it’s case of them doing what works for them and us doing what works for us. We have different players and a different style.’
Italy coach Conor O’Shea lamented the moment in the second half that changed the complexion of the game. He conceded that prop Andrea Lovotti got his tackle attempt on Duane Vermeulen horribly wrong and that the red card was warranted.
O’Shea went on to suggest that the Boks will challenge some of the better sides in the knockout phase.
‘They were outstanding. We knew what was coming, in terms of the power up front and the X-factor at the back,’ O’Shea said.
‘They’re going to be difficult to stop. That match between the Boks and New Zealand two weeks ago was a lot closer than the 10-point scoreline suggested. It hinged on a few big moments.’ The truth is that the Boks are a powerful and well structured unit and they are going to be formidable going forward.’
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