Cape Town - Sport24's Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points following South Africa's 49-3 Rugby World Cup win over Italy in Fukuroi City.
1. Italy off the hook at scrum time
It was clear from the get-go that Italy would find the going tough at scrum time. The Azzurri lost tighthead prop Simone Ferrari to injury as early as the third minute and when his replacement, Marco Riccioni, went off for a head injury assessment (HIA) in the 18th minute, it meant uncontested scrums for the next 10 minutes.
But when Riccioni failed his HIA test it meant there would be uncontested scrums for the remainder of the match.
It was harsh on South Africa, but I don't buy the suggestions that it was a deliberate ploy from Italy - I would trust that the doctors in charge of determining the outcome of the HIA test would be ethical in their diagnoses.
There was also some confusion as some pundits said that Italy should have been down to 14 men for the remainder of the match - losing two players to injury in this regard would normally be the case - but a clause in the regulations states that if a replacement player goes off for a failed HIA test, then he can be replaced.
2. Moment of Italian madness
The game was all but over after 42 minutes when Italian loosehead prop Andrea Lovotti received his marching orders for a dangerous tip tackle on Bok No 8 Duane Vermeulen.
In fact, Italy's other loosehead Nicola Quaglio could just as well have been sent off as he was also involved in the tackle.
English referee Wayne Barnes determined that Lovotti was mostly to blame and showed him a red card but it was good to see that both players were subsequently cited and banned for three games afterwards.
At that stage, Italy trailed 17-3 and had just won a penalty in front of South Africa's goal-posts. Had they scored there they were still in with a sniff but the red card and penalty reverse killed any hopes they may have harboured.
3. Bok attack needs fine-tuning
Yes, the Springboks scored seven tries in a one-sided win but I feel there is room for improvement in their execution.
There were too many passes that went astray, dropped balls and balls passed behind players and this could come back to bite the team in the knockout phases.
The Boks aren't executing well enough and I felt this tweet from Wallaby great David Campese during the match summed things up pretty well:
The amount of players offside from box kicks is insane. This game has shown poor skills and one team has no idea how to score. Sa passing is very poor. Passing ball behind players.— David Campese (@Davidcampese11) October 4, 2019
4. Racism claims dispelled
Social media exploded over the weekend after a video appeared to show Springbok wing Makazole Mapimpi frozen out by white team-mates huddled together.
In the clip, Mapimpi can be seen walking away from a group of white replacement players.
Luckily Mapimpi quelled any fears of racism when he took to social media to say he was doing so because he was not a member of "the bomb squad" - the name given to South Africa's match-day replacements at the World Cup, with the winger saying: "There is nothing wrong. We are one."
Bok coach Rassie Erasmus also dismissed any form of racism, saying afterwards: "At the end of the day when the 'bomb squad' was getting together Lood (de Jager) was on his way there and Frans Steyn told him (to go away). It was a joke between the two of them. Then Mapimps was on his way to the bomb squad and he saw it was the bomb squad so he just turned around."
Let's hope the matter is now settled, the Boks have enough to deal with at present...
So there have been a lot of unanswered questions, false accusations and misinterpretations following the “incident” involving Makazole and Frans. Here Rassie sets the record straight.— The Official MTN Bozza (@Official_Bozza) October 6, 2019
Now let’s show that #wegotubokke because we really are #stronger together ?????? pic.twitter.com/TYCI1SoH9D
5. Kolbe fast becoming Boks' MVP
Bok right wing Cheslin Kolbe was again the standout Springbok. He was a menace for the Italian defence and a brace of tries was just reward for his work-rate throughout.
Kolbe's defence has improved markedly in recent years and his prowess under the high ball is remarkable for a player standing only 5-ft-7 inches.
There's no doubt Kolbe has become a better player since joining Toulouse in France and the Boks breathed a sigh of relief when it was revealed that his ankle injury suffered towards the end of the game was not as severe as initially feared.
It's no wonder the SuperSport pundits had the following to say of Kolbe after Friday's game:
"He's walking on water" - Gcobani Bobo
"Absolutely magical" - Nick Mallett
"Phenomenal rugby" - Schalk Burger