IT was always going to be difficult for the Springbok rugby side to reproduce the clinical display they put on against France at Newlands Stadium, Cape Town, a fortnight ago.
The Puma Stadium is a long way from the hollowed turf of Cape venue, and the Bok display mirrored the surrounds in their stuttering 29-13 win on Saturday.
While the tantalising smell of braaiing boerwors wafted across the ground during the game against Italy, there wasn't a great deal appetising about the match itself. Apart from Bryan Habana's wizardry in the 17th minute, that was about as exciting as it got in the first half.
Popping up in the backline from his fullback position, Zane Kirchener stabbed through a nicely-weighted grubber kick for Habana to run on to and score untouched under the posts.
It was the Habana of old . always busy and constantly keeping the Italian's on their toes. The Italian side set out to target the Springbok scrum and it was a move that backfired.
Gurthro Steenkamp, Chiliboy Ralepelle and Jannie du Plessis was a new combination for the Boks.
Italian prop Martin Castrogiovanni had to leave the field after only 15 minutes with a back problem.
Ralepelle also had a busy game while taking the place of injured captain John Smit.
He was particularly strong in the maul situation, he popped up a lovely pass to Morne Steyn who then unloaded to the flying fullback to touch down.
Italy's only try came from a well-worked move.
A lineout just inside the Springbok half saw the ball handed to their scrumhalf Tito Tebaldi, who delivered the ball to captain Sergio Parisse who sprinted to the goal line.
Marco Bergamasco was successful with the conversion, as well as an earlier penalty.
For South Africa their other points came via tries by Steyn and Francois Louw. The former also added three conversions and a penalty for a personal tally of 14 points.
The next match between the two sides takes place in East London on Saturday.