Italy captain Sergio Parisse didn’t hide his disappointment following his side’s 49-3 thrashing at the hands of South Africa in Shizuoka on Friday.
The result – coming in Parisse’s 142nd test match, making him the second-most capped player of all-time – has effectively dashed the 36-year-old’s hopes of qualifying for his first World Cup quarter-final after five tournament appearances since 2003.
What’s perhaps more frustrating is how competitive the Azzurri were up until early in the second half, trailing the Springboks 17-3 while hot on attack deep inside enemy territory.
However, a moment of madness by loosehead prop Andrea Lovotti saw South African No. 8 Duane Vermuelen spear-tackled and dumped on his head near his own tryline resulted, leading to a red card being brandished by referee Wayne Barnes in the 43rd minute.
Fellow props Simone Ferrari and Marco Riccioni had already left the field with injuries inside the first 20 minutes, and with only one prop on the park and just 14 men at Italy’s disposal for 37 minutes, South Africa ran riot to score an additional five tries and 32 points.
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“Lovo [Lovotti] knows he made a huge error,” Parisse said of his teammate’s costly indiscretion following the encounter.
“We started the second half really well. At 17-3 it wasn’t over. If we’d scored, then we’d be back in the match and we’d cause them little doubts.
“They deserved to win, but not by that much.”
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) October 5, 2019
Asked on what he made of Italy’s performance, the vastly experienced No. 8 didn’t shy away from how he felt about the outcome, which is his 106th defeat in the international arena.
“I’m more disappointed than most,” he said.
“We now need to use this match as something to learn from in the future. We knew about the differences between the teams before the match, above all South Africa is a physical side.
“South Africa play great rugby, but you still have to play the match. We suffered in our drives and we were unable to stop theirs. A few times we couldn’t bring people down and tackled too high.
“Before the red card we gave them too many lineouts inside our 22 and gave them too many penalties, which they kicked to touch and got their drive going.”
Unable to afford another defeat if they are to make the World Cup play-offs for the first time in their history, Conor O’Shea’s side will now turn their attention to the All Blacks, who they face in their final pool match in Toyota next Saturday.
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