JOHANNESBURG – The Springboks take on Italy in what Rassie Erasmus has labelled a “do-or-die” clash.South Africa must win their showdown in Shizuoka against the Azzurri to keep alive their hopes of reaching the competition’s playoffs. Defeat would mean an early return home.Italy head into the clash top of pool B having won both their group games so far, against Namibia and Canada.South Africa, on the other hand, lost their opening encounter against New Zealand before thrashing Namibia in their second match.Those results see the Boks sit 3rd on the table with five points while the Azzurri are on 10 points after picking up bonus points in their last two matches.South Africa boast an impressive record against the northern hemisphere side, winning 13 of their 14 encounters.
The only loss came back in 2016 when Italy ran out 20-18 winners on home soil.
Erasmus is under no illusions as to how tough the clash will be.“Italy have had their eyes on this match for a couple of years and will have planned and schemed how to bring us down once again. This is a defining match for them, that means we have to be at our absolute best if we are to beat them – we are at the stage already where there are no second chances,” said Erasmus.Captain Siya Kolisi said these were the types of games that players look forward to the most.“Every game is a knockout game for us now. If we slip up, we’re out of the competition, so we’ve been incredibly focused. In a way, we’re fortunate that we get to play knockouts earlier than normal – that’s how we see this game. I know they have also prepared specially for this game – it’s one of those games you want to be playing in as a player,” he said.Kick-off is at 11:45 am (SA time).