Conor O'Shea's Italy stun South Africa with historic victory

It's a first win in 13 attempts against the Springboks

BY Raf Diallo 16:17 Saturday 19 November 2016, 16:17 19 Nov 2016

Italy's Giovanbattista Venditti, center, celebrates with his teammates Tommaso Benvenuto, left, and George Fabio Biagi during the international rugby union test match between Italy and South Africa in Florence, Italy, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrea Staccioli)

Italy have edged to a historic victory over South Africa in Saturday's November international test between both sides in Florence.

The Azzurri prevailed 20-18 over the Springboks in a match refereed by Ireland's George Clancy at the Stadio Artemio Franchi - home to Serie A football club Fiorentina.

South Africa started strongly with two tries in the first 16 minutes.

Bryan Habana scored his 66th international try on eight minutes before Italy's South-African born back-row Dries van Schalkwyk got a try for Irish head coach Conor O'Shea's team in the 11th minute.

But Damien De Allende restored the Springbok advantage five minutes later.

Conor O'Shea

However, the 55th minute saw Giovanbattista Venditti score a crucial try for Italy.

Coupled with four unerring penalties and conversions from Carlo Canna and a missed conversion from Patrick Lambie, Italy were able to win by a narrow two-point margin.

And it was a historic win for the Azzurri as it was their first over South Africa in 13 attempts and also their maiden victory over one of the Southern Hemisphere's three traditional powers. 

For South Africa, it's a second defeat in a row after the 37-21 loss to England at Twickenham last Saturday.

It also comes just over a year after their shock defeat to Japan in the Rugby World Cup pool stages, although they eventually rallied and advanced all the way to the semi-finals. 

Ex-Ireland full-back O'Shea has been in charge of Italy since March after leaving English Premiership side Harlequins where he served in the role of director of rugby.

His appointment came after the Six Nations campaign and meant the summer internationals were his first taste of action in charge of the Azzurri.

After a narrow six-point defeat to Ireland's Rugby World Cup quarter-final conquerors Argentina on their tour of the Americas, they then beat USA and Canada in tight games.

In the November internationals, they had lost 68-10 to New Zealand in Rome, one week after the All-Blacks' defeat to Ireland, before securing the famous result over South Africa exactly seven days later. 

Their final fixture of the current series will be against Tonga next Saturday in Padua.

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