RWC 2019 Pool B: South Africa vs. Italy
Venue: Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa, Shizuoka
Date: Friday, October 4, 2019
This match marks the most important to date between South Africa and Italy as both nations look to secure a quarter-final berth in the 2019 Rugby World Cup. With New Zealand away and clear at the top of the group thanks to their win over South Africa in the opening round of pool play, the best result either of these teams can realistically hope for is second in Pool B and a likely date with Japan in the last eight.
Italy have had the easiest of starts to this pool, but their games are about to get tougher in a hurry. The Italians have done everything expected of them to date – picking up a pair of easy bonus point wins against pool minnows Canada and Namibia – but now they have to face the might of the Southern hemisphere. This game against South Africa will be followed by the All Blacks, with Italy knowing they need to win at least one of those two games to progress.
South Africa bounced back in grand fashion with a crushing win over Namibia after their frustrating loss to the All Blacks first time out. It was a game where the Boks controlled the first 20 to 25 minutes of play, before a couple of mistakes led to New Zealand putting the game out of reach by half time. A win here puts the Springboks World Cup back on track, especially with Ireland having lost their expected grip on top spot in Pool A.
South Africa are back to playing their strongest possible squad after working the rotation game against Namibia. This means that the side is virtually identical to the one that played against the All Blacks, with just three changes to that starting lineup. Those changes are all made in the back, with prop Tendai Mtawarira, hooker Bongi Mbonambi, and lock Lood de Jager all getting their chance to start.
It is an interesting lineup selection, with coach Rassie Erasmus looking for more impact from his bench than he got against New Zealand. That is why Steven Kitshoff, Malcolm Marx, and Franco Mostert have dropped to the bench to act as game-changers in the second half.
The Italians have named their strongest squad for this one with the talismanic Sergio Parisse again expected to lead from the front from his No. 8 position. Parisse will have Jake Polledri and Braam Steyn alongside him in the back row, with Sebastian Negri unlucky to miss out and to only be entering the game from the replacement’s bench.
One other lineup note for the Italians is that Michele Campagnaro will be starting the game on the wing as opposed to his usual spot in midfield. This seems to be a tactical switch, perhaps to allow Campagnaro to attack with his size out wide. Jayden Hayward gets the nod at inside centre as Italy looks for more playmaking in the backline.
South Africa have to sure to not overlook Italy here. While their biggest game of the pool stage was against New Zealand, the Italians have been preparing for this game from the moment that the fixtures were announced. Their two games so far have basically been nothing more than warm-up clashes, and they know that their World Cup is on the line here. South Africa will win, but expect Italy to cover the +25.5 spread at 0.90 with BetXchange as they will be competitive before fading late in the piece.