South Africa scored five tries to overwhelm Italy 44-10 at King’s Park in Durban, South Africa, on Saturday, but the hosts needed three late scores to add a flattering edge to the result.
The Springboks raced into a 20-0 lead, but allowed themselves to be pinned back for the first 20 minutes of the second half before scoring three tries in the final quarter of an hour.
All but one of the tries came from the hosts’ speedy back line in an error-filled match in which Italy surprised the hosts with their resilience and tactic of keeping the ball in hand.
Hooker Adriaan Strauss scored first for South Africa after 14 minutes with a pushover try, before a second was added nine minutes later when J.J. Engelbrecht dotted down after a spectacular break from Bryan Habana, whose pace caught Italy cold.
The comfortable halftime cushion set up the possibility of a runaway win, but Italy were a changed outfit after the break, taking the game to South Africa and pinning the home side in their own half.
Alberto Sgarbi’s try after an audacious pass through his legs from Italy skipper Sergio Parisse was richly deserved and when debutant flyhalf Alberto di Bernardo slotted over a penalty just before the hour mark, Italy had reduced the deficit to just 10 points.
Home crowd frustration boiled over with a bout of jeering when flyhalf Morne Steyn kicked away possession, but the final 15 minutes suddenly saw the ’Boks revive their form.
Habana scored his 48th Test try as he collected a ball just inside Italy’s half and then set off at pace, cutting through the defense spectacularly to score.
That was followed by two more tries from the backs, with captain Jean de Villiers scoring at the end of an expansive move and Bjorn Basson added a fifth with an intercept try from the halfway line.
“We had a slump in the middle of the game, but came back strongly in the latter part of the second half,” De Villiers said.
SAMOA 27, SCOTLAND 17
Reuters, DURBAN, South Africa
Giant winger Alesana Tuilagi scored two tries as Samoa claimed their first victory over Scotland at King’s Park in the first of a double-header on Saturday.
Tuilagi, whose brother Manu is on tour with the British and Irish Lions in Australia, gave an impressive exhibition of brute strength to power over for his two scores as Samoa snapped a streak of eight previous matches without success against Scotland.
Fullback James So’oialo got Samoa’s other try and contributed 12 points from the boot.
Samoa’s imposing pack and fast-paced backs ensured a storming start with two tries in the opening 13 minutes.
So’oialo opened the scoring in the seventh minute as Samoa fielded a Scotland kick inside their own half to set up a sweeping move, finished off by the fullback.
Tuilagi scored his first from the left wing six minutes later as the huge Samoan frames battered through the Scotland defense.
Indiscipline in the scrums allowed Scotland to keep in touch through the boot of scrumhalf Greig Laidlaw, who kicked four penalties, but also missed two easy opportunities.
Scotland enjoyed a brief lead at 17-14 when they reaped the rewards of a period of sustained pressure early in the second half which led to Sean Lamont scoring on the right wing, but they held the advantage for only a few minutes before So’oialo kicked over a penalty for parity, followed by Tuliagi’s second try as he raced through the defense, brushing aside a tackler to dive between the posts in the 64th minute.
ARGENTINA 3, ENGLAND 32
Reuters, SALTA, Argentina
England ran in four tries, including three in an exciting first-half performance, to crush an error-prone Argentina in the first Test in Salta, Argentina, on Saturday.
Flyhalf Freddie Burns kicked 12 points, his only miss an attempted conversion of the opening try by David Strettle that came back off an upright.
Burns punished Pumas infringements with two successful early penalties before an experimental young side without England’s British and Irish Lions found gaps in the Argentina defense with a slick passing game played at a high tempo.
Argentina also fielded a second-string team who played into England hands with an error-prone first half.
A break down the right from nippy wing Christian Wade led to the first try, the move going left and center Jonathan Joseph feeding the last pass to Strettle, who went over in the corner after 18 minutes.
Center Billy Twelvetrees was next to score on the right at the end of an attack involving powerful No. 8 Ben Morgan and Wade, who offloaded the final pass.
Morgan capped a fine game with the third try in the same corner, before Burns added the conversion.
England’s mistakes came almost exclusively from offsides and Pumas fullback Martin Bustos Moyano kicked a penalty on the stroke of halftime to make the score 25-3 after missing three earlier attempts at goal.
Argentina came out determined in the second half and won two penalties in the opening 10 minutes, but Bustos Moyano missed both.
Play evened out and changes to both sides reduced England’s precision, though not their strength.
Replacement No. 8 Billy Vunipola crossed for the fourth try in the final seconds, going over under the posts from the base of a scrum. Burns converted.
US 12, IRELAND 15
AFP, HOUSTON, Texas
Flyhalf Ian Madigan converted five penalties to lead Ireland to a victory over a determined US on Saturday in the first of two North American Tests for the tourists.
The US, ranked 16th in the world, kept it impressively close against ninth-ranked Ireland in the match at BBVA Compass Arena, home of the Houston Dynamo.
The clash drew a crowd of 20,181, a record for a rugby union match in the US.
Fullback Chris Wyles converted four penalties for the hosts, who suffered their second defeat in two weeks after opening their Pacific Nations Cup campaign with a loss to Canada in Edmonton on May 25.
“We’re disappointed,” US coach Mike Tolkin said. “It was right within winning distance.”