Cape Town - A strong second half performance by Italy saw the Springbok Women suffer a disappointing 35-10 defeat in wet and muddy conditions in Prato on Sunday in the closing Test on their four-match European Tour.
Italy outscored Stanley Raubenheimer’s charges by five tries to one, with their strong forward play and patience on attack in the familiar conditions steering them to victory. Italian wing Sofia Stefan was in fine form as she contributed a brace, with a try in each half.
In stark contrast to the hosts, the Springbok Women battled to gain momentum due to errors at crucial times and ill-discipline, however, they did well to force Italy into making errors close to the tryline in the first half.
The Springbok Women showed their intent from the outset with centre Zintle Mpupha touching down for the first points of the match five minutes into the game as she booted the ball up-field from an Italian error and dashed after it to score. Her midfield partner Demi Nel slotted over the conversion, and the team took a 7-0 lead.
Stefan scored Italy’s first try 10 minutes later after the Springbok Women knocked on the ball, and they backed this up with two penalty goals by Michela Sillari to take an 11-7 lead.
The visitors were dealt a big blow shortly after as Nel received a yellow card for infringing at a ruck. Italy fought until the halftime hooter and their efforts paid off with Elisa Giordano touching down to hand them a 16-7 half-time lead.
The Springbok Women again scored the first points after play resumed compliments of a penalty goal by Nel, but this proved to be their last points of the match.
The hosts, in turn, continued to use their strong forwards to apply pressure and their efforts paid off as Stefan scored her second try out wide. They were awarded a penalty try minutes later and Ilaria Arrighetti added their fifth try of the match with six minutes left on the clock.
Despite trailing 35-10, the Springbok Women refused to give up fighting and they tried hard to score again in the dying minutes, but their efforts were unsuccessful. The team will embark on their journey back to South Africa on Monday.
Tries: Sofia Stefan (2), Elisa Giordano, Ilaria Arrighetti, Penalty try
Conversion: Michela Sillari
Penalties: Sillari (2)
Try: Zintle Mpupha
Conversion: Demi Nel