Rugby: Italy beat sorry South Africa for first time

Sports Saturday 19/November/2016 21:30 PM
By: Times News Service
Rugby: Italy beat sorry South Africa for first time

Florence: Italy claimed their first victory over South Africa on Saturday, beating the demoralised southern-hemisphere giants 20-18 in Florence.
A delirious home crowd gave their team, ranked 13th in the world, a standing ovation after the match as the visitors -- fourth in the world -- formed a lonely huddle in the middle of the field, reminiscent of their shock loss against Japan in last year's World Cup.
Both sides scored two tries, but Italy fed off repeated South Africa mistakes and grew in confidence as the game wore on. Even the crowd, so accustomed to defeat, began to believe.
"I am extremely proud," veteran captain Sergio Parisse told reporters, calling it Italy's most important ever victory as they continued their adventure under new Irish coach, Conor O'Shea, who has taken them back to basics, raised the intensity of training and adopted new, attacking tactics.
"For us, this is just a start but it's a very good one," O'Shea, told reporters.
South Africa, coming off a heavy defeat against England last weekend -- their first in 10 years -- seemed intent from the outset to register an emphatic win, opening with the first try to Bryan Habana and resisting repeated attempts at goal.
But their game was riddled with errors as they passed balls into touch, failed to penetrate with their rolling maul and spilled the ball deep in Italian territory.
Italy never went away and, despite having been hammered 68-10 a week ago in Rome by the All Blacks, threw themselves into tackles and defended their line fiercely. They matched South Africa in the scrum and showed them up in the maul.
Within moments of Habana's try, after South Africa messed up the restart, Italy's South African-born Andries Van Schalkwyk replied, crossing the line from a rolling maul.
From there, the lead see-sawed as centre Damian de Allende ran in a second try for the visitors and Italy again hit back with winger Giovanbattista Venditti touching down with barely 20 minutes to go.
Italy had a try disallowed in the dying moments of the match, but by then a famous victory was already secured, thanks to an earlier penalty goal by Carlo Canna.