South Africa ran in ten tries as they gave USA an absolute drubbing, cutting lose in the second-half that saw Bryan Habana score a hat-trick
South Africa comfortably gained the bonus point they needed to top Pool B, after just 46 minutes. Two tries in the first half, the first by Damien de Allende and the second a penalty try, after a collapsed scrum on the USA’s line gave them a comfortable 14-0 lead. In the second-half, they scored eight unanswered tries, as South Africa cut loose. Bryan Habana scored a hat-trick as a sorry USA side became the first side to be nilled in the 2015 tournament. The Springboks march confidently on to the knock-out stages.
He maybe knocking on in winger’s terms, at 32, but Bryan Habana played with the joyful exuberance of a player who was still enjoying his rugby. He crossed the whitewash three times in only 19 second-half minutes, and unsurprisingly with a big smile on his face, raised his finger to the heavens in what has been a remarkable career. In this game, he drew level with David Campese on 64 Test tries, to be joint-second behind Daisuke Ohata on 69 and stood alongside the great Jonah Lomu on 15 tries in his three World Cups at the top of the pile. A phenomenal player.
There’s one thing stopping at attacker. It’s quite another thing driving him backwards and dominating the collision. Time and time again, the likes of Eben Etzebeth, Lood de Jager, Schalk Burger and Duane Vermeulen drove ball carriers into the turf, even the human demolition ball, Samu Manoa. If there’s a better side in the collision that the Springboks, I’ve yet to see them. It broke the Eagles’ resolve for the second-half. *Just don’t mention Japan in Brighton*
Springbok future looks bright
Whatever happens at this tournament, South Africa have a rich seam of talent all over the pitch. Handre Pollard, Damien de Allende and Jesse Kriel, are 21, 23 and 21 years of age, yet despite carrying envious size, all are comfortably over 6ft and 15st, they possess sharp rugby brains. In the 30th minute, the way they switched as they saw an opening, saw the Boks only deprived a try by centimetres, as Kriel tried to squeeze over. Expect a barrelload of caps for this trio in the next decade. Then there’s Eben Etzebeth and Lood de Jager in the engine room. It’s enough to make other sides turn a Springbok-green shade of envy.
Jean de Villiers is the consummate rugby statesman
One of the world’s genuine rugby statesmen, after an operation on a fractured jaw back in South Africa, Jean de Villiers flew back to the UK to work with the Springboks as a ‘consultant’. No doubt to offer advice to promising midfield trio, Jesse Kriel, Damien de Allende and Jan Serfontein. It shows the measure of the man that he didn’t mope around in the sunshine on the Cape and returned to rainy London to support the Boks. He was last seen taking selfies with South African fans with a big smile on his face. Take a bow, JdV!
The Olympic Stadium as a rugby venue
Spectacular modern design. Tick. Comfortable seated-stadium. Tick. First-rate modern media facilities. Tick. Soul of a rugby stadium. Not on your nelly. The Olympic Stadium is almost too big, with the seats in the upper tiers too far from the pitch. For those lacking 20-20 vision, binoculars are a must. I understand the need to use the stadium to fulfil the ticket target, but I don’t imagine it will become a regular rugby venue. The lack of drinking holes near the stadium, is also a bit of a dampener.
USA selection policy
Okay, we know the Eagles had an eye on the weekend’s fixture against Japan as they look to eke out their first win of the 2015 tournament, but the decision of USA coach Mike Tolkin to rest players of the calibre of Chris Wyles and Cam Dolan looked foolhardy as Bismarck du Plessis powered over for the bonus point try on 46 minutes, before completely folding under a green wave. Playing one of the world’s top sides at a packed out Olympic Stadium should be a highlight of many player’s career, so play your strongest side, or risk humiliation.
Referee: Pascal Gauzere (Fra)
Man of the match: Damien de Allende (SA)
South Africa carried 537 metres to USA’s 293
South Africa beat 30 USA defenders, while contrastingly, USA beat just 11 and made 13 linebreaks to 3
Willie Le Roux was the game’s top carrier on 77 metres, followed by Duane Vermeulen on 69. Blaine Scully was third on 60 metres carried
Chris Baumann was the game’s top tackler with 16, second was Francois Louw on 12
South Africa: Le Roux; B Habana, J Kriel, D De Allende, L Mvovo; H Pollard (M Steyn 56), F Du Preez (c); T Mtawarira (T Nyakane 56), B du Plessis (S Brits 56), F Malherbe, E Etzebeth, L De Jager, F Louw, S Burger (W Alberts 48), D Vermeulen
Reps: C Oosthuizen, PS du Toit, R Paige, J Serfontein
Tries: de Allende, penalty try, B Habana (3), F Louw (2), B du Plessis (1), L Mvovo (1), J Kriel (1)
Con: H Pollard (4), Steyn (4)
USA: B Scully, B Thompson, F Niua, A Suniula, Z Test, S Suniula, N Kruger; O Kilifi, P Thiel (J Taufete’e 70), C Baumann, L Stanfill, M Trouville, D Barrett (A McCFarland 57), J Quill, S Manoa
Reps: Z Fenoglio, M Moeakiola, T Lamositele, C Dolan, M Petri, C Wyles