A first half Bryan Habana try led South Africa to a 13-5 victory over Samoa in a spiteful Pool D match at North Harbour Stadium on Friday.
The play was often brutal as Samoa made some severe inroads in the second spell and it boiled over when Paul Williams, man of the match in Samoa’s last match, was sent off for striking Heinrich Brüssow in the face after the South African had hit Williams repeatedly to free himself from the Samoan’s grip.
That was in the 70th minute and then South Africa replacement John Smit received a yellow card for a deliberate knock-on and then kicking the ball away, so both teams ended with 14 men on the field.
South Africa took a 13-0 lead into the second spell, but Samoa reduced the margin through George Stowers as the Pacific Islanders took the game to the Africans and dominated the spell.
The first action of the second half was a left thigh injury to first half try-scorer Habana from the kick-off. He stayed on the field, before eventually being replaced by Francois Hougaard in the 47th minute.
Samoa had threatened with some probing hard running and eventually succeeded in threading the defence with a scintilating back line move which ended with George Stowers getting the ball from Tusi Pisi and diving over with three South Africans in close attendance.
Pisi missed the conversion, but Samoa were on the board at 13-5.
Samoa were dominating play as they threw everything at South Africa, who in turn got a little ragged.
The Springboks were able to absorb the Samoa pressure and managed the occasional break themselves. On one of these forays, Bismarck du Plessis looked to have gone over for a try, but the attempt was ruled inconclusive.
Habana scored the first South Africa points, with his 40th Test try in the left hand corner after receiving a pass from Bismarck du Plessis in the ninth minute.
Morné Steyn posted the conversion from the touchline, which made him the first player in RWC 2011 to score 50 points.
Frans Steyn made it 10-0 with a penalty in the 24th minute and two minutes later some indiscipline from Kane Thompson resulted in another penalty, which Steyn dispatched to make it 13-0.