By Nick Said
FUKUROICITY, Japan (Reuters) – Coach Rassie Erasmus said South Africa were not clinical enough in their seven-try mauling of Italy on Friday but praised the physicality of their play in a 49-3 rout that took them a step closer to a Rugby World Cup quarter-final berth.
The Springboks ran in seven tries at the Shizuoka Stadium but also left a few out on the pitch through sloppy play, something Erasmus said they needed to improve as they head towards the knockout stages.
“It definitely wasn’t perfect,” he admitted to reporters.
“Tactically and technically there were mistakes and errors, and we have to get better on the attacking side. We will have to make progress if we are to get to the semi-finals and final.”
What was pleasing for the coach was the way his side bullied the Italians into submission, forcing errors from their opponents, such as the red card for prop Andrea Lovotti for a tip-tackle on 43 minutes with the score at 17-3 that put the Boks firmly in the driving seat.
“If we want to go all the way, it (physicality) is something we need in our game and I thought the previous five or six test matches, it was not consistent. Our physicality was consistent in this game.”
Italy coach Conor O’Shea believes the Boks are one of the most powerful sides he has ever seen and Erasmus said they had to play to this strength.
“We have a certain style of play, we have certain types of players and we know how we want to perform. We were good in the scrum, mauling and the breakdown, all the physical areas.”
Erasmus also allayed fears over the fitness of key wing Cheslin Kolbe, who limped off with a little over a minute to go, having scored two tries, and looked a livewire throughout.
If the Boks are to be contenders at the business end of the tournament, his presence in the backline, coupled with their power up front, will be crucial.
“His ankle is fine, he did roll it a bit and with a minute left, even having used all our substitutes, we thought it was best to get him off the field,” Erasmus said.
“He played a wonderful game on attack and defence. He must be one of the best players in the world, along with (New Zealanders) Sevu Reece and Damian McKenzie that have that X-factor to create something from nothing.”
The Boks are next in action on Tuesday when they meet minnows Canada in Kobe, where they will expect to secure the victory they need to rubberstamp their quarter-final place.
(Reporting By Nick Said; editing by Clare Fallon)