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Delighted Italians score first rugby victory over South Africa; Wales snatch drop-goal win against Japan as England cruise

Giovanbattista Venditti touches down in the second half to continue the Springboks woes

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 November, 2016, 1:03am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 November, 2016, 1:03am

Giovanbattista Venditti scored a crucial second-half try as Italy bounced back from an All Blacks mauling to score an historic first 20-18 win over embattled South Africa on Saturday.

Bryan Habana, winning his 124th cap for the Springboks, gave Allister Coetzee’s men an early boost with an eighth-minute try that took his test total to 67.

But Italy, now under Irish coach Conor O’Shea, were on a mission to play creative rugby and did so while repelling several promising South African attacks during an entertaining game in Florence.

It is South Africa’s first defeat by Italy in 13 matches and will heap more pressure on Coetzee ahead of their final November test against Wales next weekend.

“I’m very happy for the players and the fans, but this is only the start for us,” said Italy coach Conor O’Shea. “We have a lot to do to change rugby in Italy, but we have the capability, talent and potential to do it.

“Today, we made a lot of mistakes and we had some problems with discipline. But the sheer heart and courage ... they weren’t just brave, they were just heroic.”

In Cardiff, replacement fly half Sam Davies’ last-gasp drop goal gave Wales a 33-30 win over a feisty Japan side in a thrilling test at the Principality stadium.

Wales were given a big fright when replacement back Amanaki Lotoahea raced down the right wing for a try which fly half Yu Tamura converted to put the 2019 World Cup hosts level with five minutes remaining.

The Welsh were indebted to 15 points from the boot of Leigh Halfpenny as they were never allowed a breather by a Japan side who hit back every time the hosts looked like pulling away.

Flanker Dan Lydiate, centre Jamie Roberts and captain Sam Warburton went over for Wales while Japan’s first two tries were scored by wingers Akihito Yamada and Kenki Fukuoka.

At Twickenham, Fiji-born England winger Semesa Rokoduguni scored a brace as Eddie Jones’ team buried an overpowered Fiji under an avalanche of tries to record their biggest win over the Pacific Islanders in a one-sided contest at Twickenham.

Jones saw his side pick up where they left off in last weekend’s win over South Africa, overpowering their opponents to run in nine tries.

England made it 12 successive wins, and 11 of those coming since Jones took over the reins after the World Cup failure.

They are now just two victories away from England’s best ever winning streak which was the 14 under Clive Woodward.

Fly half George Ford admitted: “It’s another good win but we know we can play better. We did a lot of good things right in the opening half but then let ourselves down a bit and allowed them to cross for three tries.

“We will have to improve against Argentina next weekend because they will come here believing they can beat us. But we’re enjoying this winning habit and want it to continue.”

Jones requested plain old fish and chips rugby from his players – nothing too exotic, fanciful or daring. And he got a no-nonsense approach to the game and a few frills and thrills on top as his team feasted on a glut of sumptuous tries.

Five tries in the opening 26 minutes left Fiji dazed as England blitzed their opponents into submission and led 34-10 at ther break.

Agence France-Presse, Reuters