Padova - The Springboks claimed an unconvincing 22-6 victory over Italy on Saturday with a late try from Bryan Habana adding some respectability after a lacklustre performance.
As it happened: Italy v Springboks
South Africa scored three tries, the others coming from Coenie Oosthuizen and Cobus Reinach, but showed none of the accuracy that helped them beat England at Twickenham last weekend, against an Italian side full of guts and passion.
Bok coach Heyneke Meyer will be scratching his head looking for positives from the game with five matches to go until next year's World Cup. Their other points came from a Pat Lambie penalty and two conversions from replacement Handre Pollard.
Italy contested and forced the visitors into errors, with their points coming from two penalties by flyhalf Kelly Haimona.
South Africa had averaged over 50 points in their 11 previous meetings with Italy, but found a much more organised defence this time round.
The first half was about Italian defiance in their own 22 and South African mistakes as the teams turned at half-time with the Boks leading 8-6.
New Zealand-born Haimona put Italy in front with an early penalty that was cancelled out four minutes later by Lambie.
It took South Africa until midway through the first half to get their first try as prop Oosthuizen, selected in part for his ability in the loose, barged over from five metres. Lambie missed the conversion.
South Africa camped in Italian territory for the remainder of the first period but it was the home side who got the next score as Haimona slotted another penalty on the stroke of half-time.
The second half followed much the same pattern, the sloppy South Africans giving up possession in the face of a stoic home defence.
It took 20 minutes, and the introduction off the bench of fullback Willie le Roux, for South Africa to put some daylight between themselves and Italy.
Le Roux broke the line and fed debutant loose-forward Nizaam Carr, whose first touch of the ball in international rugby was to brilliantly put Reinach clear to score under the posts.
Pollard slotted the conversion, and in the final minute it was his break that set Habana away for the third score and his 57th try for the Boks.
Penalties: Kelly Haimona (2).
Tries: Coenie Oosthuizen, Cobus Reinach, Bryan Habana
Conversions: Handre Pollard (2)
Penalty: Pat Lambie
15 Andrea Masi, 14 Leonardo Sarto, 13 Michele Campagnaro, 12 Luca Morisi, 11 Luke McLean, 10 Kelly Haimona, 9 Edoardo Gori, 8 Sergio Parisse (captain), 7 Samuela Vunisa, 6 Alessandro Zanni, 5 Joshua Furno, 4 Quintin Geldenhuys, 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Matias Aguero
Substitutes: 16 Andrea Manici, 17 Alberto De Marchi, 18 Dario Chistolini, 19 Marco Bortolami, 20 Francesco Minto, 21 Guglielmo Palazzani, 22 Luciano Orquera, 23 Giulio Toniolatti
15 Johan Goosen, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jan Serfontein, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Teboho “Oupa” Mohoje, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Trevor Nyakane
Substitutes: 16 Bismarck du Plessis, 17 Gurthrö Steenkamp, 18 Julian Redelinghuys, 19 Lood de Jager, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Francois Hougaard, 22 Handré Pollard, 23 Willie le Roux