Impressive South Africa breeze to a 76-0 win with 12 tries in Bordeaux
Anything you can do, I can do better. Last week Ireland enjoyed a 12-try, 82-8 romp against the Oaks. South Africa matched the try figure but improved on the margin as the Bordeaux crowd saw the Boks thrash Romania 76-0 in a depressingly one-sided Pool B contest.
That Romania escaped the ignominy of conceding 100 points – last seen at a Rugby World Cup in 2007, when New Zealand beat Portugal – was down to worsening conditions as the rain fell heavily. The East Europeans’ tireless efforts are also to be commended.
But the gulf in class made uncomfortable viewing. The ease with which the Springboks scored some of their tries will prompt some to ask whether the tournament is ready to expand to 24 teams, as some stakeholders are advocating, albeit that other lower-tier nations like Uruguay and Portugal have put in fantastic performances.
In the end there were hat-tricks for Cobus Reinach and Makazole Mapimpi, a double for Grant Williams, and singles for Damian Willemse, Deon Fourie and Willie Le Roux. A penalty try for a collapsed scrum completed the South African dozen, Willemse and Faf de Klerk knocking over plenty of conversions.
Apart from coming through the match with bodies intact, the main benefit for the Bok coaches was the chance to experiment as they pondered who to call into the squad in place of the injured hooker Malcolm Marx. Fourie and Marco van Staden both spent time at hooker in this match, increasing speculation that Handré Pollard might be summoned.
The fly-half was later confirmed as the man chosen to join the squad.
Related: Handré Pollard called up
Goal-kicking is one area where the Boks look average but whether they will need to slot all their kicks remains to be seem because this team is currently so dominant.
At times the match resembled a training run for the Springboks. Reinach got the first of his three tries with a simple dummy off a 5m scrum, then Mapimpi strolled over untouched from Willie Le Roux’s switch pass.
Reinach ran in number three after weak tackling and the bonus point was secured inside a barely credible 11 minutes 13 seconds – a Rugby World Cup record, beating Australia v Namibia in 2003 – as Willemse stepped smartly and ran through.
Tevita Manumua missed a kick at goal for the Oaks before Reinach completed his hat-trick after the ball squirted out of a rapidly retreating Romanian defensive scrum. Reinach scored an even quicker treble against Canada in Kobe four years ago and he now has the two fastest hat-tricks in RWC history.
Van Staden had a try disallowed for blocking in the lineout and the electric Williams, one of four scrum-halves in South Africa’s match-day 23, came close to catching a Canan Moodie kick-through. Two chances that got away.
But with Willemse – the only survivor from the starting XV against Scotland a week ago – making a good fist of the conversions, South Africa still led 33-0 at half-time.
Romania’s brightest moment in that first period was a break by Taylor Gontineac. His father, Romeo, who was watching from the stands, is a Romanian legend who played in the only previous South Africa-Romania match at the 1995 World Cup. That one finished 21-8.
There was no chance of anything similar this time. Fourie replaced Mbongeni Mbonambi at the start of the second half and had a try from a driving maul within two minutes. Twenty minutes later after the water break, he was shifted to the back row to enable van Staden to have a go in the middle of the front row.
With de Klerk coming on for a pressure-free stint at ten, the Boks ran the fading Romanians off their feet and Mapimpi completed his treble with two tries in four minutes. Williams crossed twice and there was a first try in 13 World Cup appearances for Le Roux.
Of other missed opportunities, by far the worst was a break by Moodie that required a simple pass to the supporting Jaden Hendrikse. Moodie butchered the chance by inexplicably ignoring his team-mate.
When referee Mathieu Raynal mercifully brought an end to proceedings, Romania had conceded 41 tries and 271 points in their last four appearances. Ouch.
Vincent Koch, who had been due to make his first Test start since RWC 2019 after 28 consecutive appearances as a replacement, pulled out after a knee injury in the warm-up.
South Africa coach Jacques Nienaber was a satisfied man. “One can’t plan for a good or bad start but you can plan to start with intensity, and I thought we had massive intensity today,” he said. “All credit to Romania, there will be some sore bodies in our team tonight.”
South Africa Willie Le Roux; Grant Williams, Canan Moodie, Andre Esterhuizen, Makazole Mapimpi; Damian Willemse, Cobus Reinach; Ox Nche, Mbongeni Mbonambi (capt), Trevor Nyakane, Jean Kleyn, Marvin Orie, Marco van Staden, Kwagga Smith, Duane Vermeulen.
Replacements 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Jasper Wiese, 21 Jaden Hendrikse, 22 Faf de Klerk, 23 Jesse Kriel.
Romania Marius Simionescu; Tevita Manumua, Jason Tomane, Taylor Gontineac, Nicholas Onutu; Hinckley Vaovasa, Gabriel Rupanu; Iulian Hartig, Ovidiu Cojocaru, Alexandru Gordas, Adrian Motoc, Marius Ifimiciuc, Andre Gorin, Vlad Neculau, Cristian Chirica (capt).
Replacements 16 Robert Irimescu, 17 Alexandru Savin, 18 Thomas Cretu, 19 Stefan Iancu, 20 Damian Stratila, 21 Cristi Boboc, 22 Alin Conache, 23 Gabriel Pop.
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