South Africa trounces 14-man Italy 49-3 to stay alive at RWC

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SHIZUOKA, Japan (AP) — South Africa won big in a game it had to win, trouncing 14-man Italy 49-3 in Shizuoka on Friday to stay in the Rugby World Cup.

South Africa was 17-3 up through two tries and the boot of Handre Pollard by the time Italy prop Andrea Lovotti was sent off for dangerous play in the opening minutes of the second half.

Lovotti lifted South Africa No. 8 Duane Vermeulen off his feet and speared him into the ground, head-first, for the fourth red card of the World Cup.

Italy had problems with props all night. Two of them were injured in the first 20 minutes leading to uncontested scrums.

The Springboks scored seven tries in all for a bonus point. They would have taken just a win to keep them in the competition before kickoff but weren’t going to turn down the chance when Italy went down to 14 men with nearly the entire second half to play.

Electric right wing Cheslin Kolbe scored two of the tries, hooker Bongi Mbonambi one, and center Lukhanyo Am intercepted for the bonus-point score. Left wing Makazole Mapimpi also had one, Italy gifted replacement lock RG Snyman the sixth, and hooker Malcolm Marx was over in a rolling maul after the final hooter.

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Italy is just about out of the World Cup. It needs to beat defending champion New Zealand in its last pool game to have a chance of making the quarters.

South Africa is just about through with underdog Canada to play.

South Africa dominated up front early in a game billed as likely to be decided up front. The Boks pack buckled the Italians in the first scrum and marched them back in the second. But South Africa’s scrum dominance disappeared midway through the half when the game went to uncontested scrums. That’s because Italy prop Simone Ferrari went off injured in the first minute and his replacement, Marco Riccioni, also later left injured. Italy had no specialist tighthead left.

The Springboks’ big men found other ways to dominate, making big charges, being effective in the lineout, and scoring two tries from rolling mauls.

Kolbe jinked through Italy’s defense for the first in the sixth minute. The forwards took Mbonambi over for the second.

Italy’s only points came through flyhalf Tommaso Allan’s early penalty, but Italy tested South Africa’s defense in the first half.

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Lovotti’s red card on Vermeulen _ after Italy nearly scored the first points of the second half _ allowed the Boks to pour it on.

Kolbe’s second came when he collected a cross-kick from Pollard.

Am’s try was the result of a crazy, helter skelter passage of play when Italy intercepted deep in its half and broke all the way downfield. The teams both lost possession multiple times in the move before Am intercepted and went 50 meters back to score untouched.

Mapimpi also collected a cross-kick, this time on the left wing from the boot of fullback Willie le Roux.

Italy fullback Matteo Minozzi handed the sixth to Snyman on a plate when he was being tackled into touch by Kolbe near his tryline and tried to hurl a pass infield with five minutes to go. The ball fell for Snyman to scoop it up and dive over.

Replacement hooker Marx scored the final one well after the final hooter sounded. South Africa’s forwards were eager for more. Pollard’s missed conversion in the last act prevented it being 50 points.

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More AP Rugby World Cup: https://www.apnews.com/RugbyWorldCup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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