Simon Mail previews the latest action from the World Cup with much-fancied South Africa taking on Italy in Shizuoka...
"Makazole Mapimpi's two tries against Namibia took his tally to an exceptional ten tries in ten Tests and he is fancied to continue his scoring streak for South Africa."
South Africa v Italy
Live on ITV 4
Springboks contenders despite opening defeat
South Africa were handed the toughest possible start to the competition and the Springboks were beaten 23-13 in their opener by defending champions New Zealand. Rassie Erasmus' side suffered their first defeat in 2019 against the All Blacks and will have to achieve history if they are to become the first team to win the World Cup having lost a match.
Normal service resumed in their second pool game as South Africa swatted aside Namibia in a 57-3 victory. The Springboks ran in nine tries during the one-sided win with wing Makazole Mapimpi and Bongi Mbonambi scoring twice each. It was a routine win for South Africa but this will not be as easy against an Italy side with maximum points.
Erasmus has shuffled his pack for their third match with Tendai Mtawarira and Mbonambi retaining their spots in the front row after strong performances against Namibia. Handre Pollard returns at fly-half for South Africa, while exciting wing Cheslin Kolbe and full-back Willie Le Roux are recalled after being rested for their last game.
Encouragement for Italy after two wins
Italy have made a promising start to the World Cup and their struggles in the Six Nations have been long forgotten. Conor O'Shea's side picked up bonus-point victories from their first two matches, although it gets significantly harder from here. Italy defeated Namibia 47-22 in a scrappy contest but improved significantly in their convincing 48-7 win against Canada.
Sergio Parisse will become Italy's record appearance maker in the World Cup when the number eight starts in his 15th match in the competition, winning his 142nd cap. Braam Steyn and the highly-rated Gloucester flanker Jake Polledri line up alongside him in the back row. Tommaso Allan forms the half-back partnership with Tito Tebaldi as Italy look to give the Springboks a tough challenge.
South Africa have won 13 of their 14 previous clashes against Italy although their shock defeat in Florence three years ago will ensure they take nothing for granted. The Springboks were in disarray at that time though and this should be a different story, with this reinvigorated team genuine World Cup contenders. South Africa won 35-6 in their last meeting, two years ago, which is virtually the handicap mark for this match.
Taking the favourites to cover a 28-point handicap looks a risky play with Italy making strides in their last match. South Africa should win with something to spare but they may not overcome their opponents by the margin required. Instead, it looks worth turning to their star wing to deliver again. Mapimpi's two tries against Namibia took his tally to an exceptional ten tries in ten Tests and he is fancied to continue his scoring streak for South Africa. The prolific finisher is odds-on to score but looks a strong bet to be first tryscorer, with each way paying the first three players to cross the line, in a win for South Africa.
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