Springboks crush USA to win Pool B

Date published: October 7 2015

South Africa qualified for the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals thanks to a 64-0 demolition of the USA in London on Wednesday.

Veteran wing Bryan Habana was the star of the show as he scored three tries to draw level with Jonah Lomu's all-time RWC try-scoring record of 15.

The results sees the Springboks secure top spot in Pool B and sets up a clash with the losers of Saturday's showdown between Australia and Wales at Twickenham. Meanwhile the USA will now look to their match with Japan on Sunday as they search for their first win of the tournament.

Off the platform of a totally dominant scrum, the Springboks scored ten unanswered tries, yet coach Heyneke Meyer will have mixed feelings about the performance of his strongest available side.

South Africa's total physical dominance was juxtaposed by their poor execution on attack in the first half.

Indeed, the Boks would have been disappointed by their first 40 minutes as a glut of unforced handling errors and below-par kicks left much to be desired. There was a distinct lack of composure shown as the Boks threw loose passes and made overly-hasty decisions.

South Africa led 14-0 at the interval thanks to a try from Damian de Allende and a penalty try awarded against the American scrum.

The second-half was a different story however as the Eagles crumbled.

Habana sealed his hat-trick in the space of 20 minutes and Bismarck du Plessis, Francois Louw – who scored twice – Jesse Kriel and Lwazi Mvovo all followed him onto the scoresheet.

The Eagles had the first chance at points but Folau Niua's long-range penalty fell short.

The early signs were ominous for the Americans though as the Springbok pack rumbled forward at the first scrum.

The Boks were sloppy in the early minutes but the opening try wasn't long in coming. Schalk Burger slapped a loose ball along the ground and De Allende took advantage of the unstructured situation, splitting the US defence open before handing off Danny Barrett to score.

Handre Pollard added the extras, meaning the Boks led by seven after as many minutes.

It was the Eagles however who dominated possession in the first quarter but Niku Kruger couldn't find the target from the kicking tee either, leaving the USA empty handed despite a promising opening 20 minutes.

An almighty clash in mid-air between Habana and Blaine Scully saw both men sent for concussion assessments. In Habana's brief absence Kriel shifted to the wing and was stopped just short of the line after a break by Pollard.

A series of scrums ensued and the Boks were rewarded for their superiority at the set-piece with a penalty try. Curiously though, referee Pascal Gauzere only raised his arm under the posts after Pollard had overcooked a crossfield kick.

Pollard added the inevitable conversion to take the lead to 14 points and the men in green should have had another try but Duane Vermeulen butchered a sure thing by knocking on with line in sight.

Fourie du Preez was the architect of a gem of a try almost immediately after the second-half restart, placing a glorious chip into space for Habana to run onto and finish untouched. Pollard's conversion made it 21-0.

Du Plessis muscled his way over soon after from close range after Vermeulen was stopped short from a charge off the back of an attacking scrum.

The floodgates had opened and Louw got his first try at the back of an unstoppable rolling maul. Pollard made it 33-0.

Habana scored his second thanks to an offload from De Allende with Morne Styen landing his first points of the tournament with the conversion.

The Eagles were out on their feet and another maul set up Habana's third try, an easy run in. Steyn again hit the target.

Yet another maul took Louw over for his brace before Kriel used his pace to race home.

Habana fumbled in the act of going over for what would have been a record-breaking try but the Boks still had the last laugh as Mvovo pounced on a loose ball and raced home from his own 22. Steyn took the score to 64 after the final hooter.

Man of the match: Mentions must go to young locks Lood de Jager and Eben Etzebeth, who were at the heart of South Africa's physical dominance. But you can't ignore the guy who scored a hat-trick, Bryan Habana.

Moment of the match: The spark that started the fire was Fourie du Preez's great chip into space to create Habana's first try.

Villain of the match: No nasty stuff to report.

The scorers:

For South Africa:
Tries: De Allende, Penalty try, Habana 3, Du Plessis, Louw 2, Kriel, Mvovo
Cons: Pollard 4, Steyn 3

South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Bryan Habana, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Fourie du Preez (c), 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20 Willem Alberts, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Morne Steyn, 23 Jan Serfontein.

USA: 15 Blaine Scully, 14 Brett Thompson, 13 Folau Niua, 12 Andrew Suniula, 11 Zach Test, 10 Shalom Suniula, 9 Niku Kruger, 8 Samu Manoa (c), 7 John Quill, 6 Danny Barrett, 5 Matthew Trouville, 4 Louis Stanfill, 3 Chris Baumann, 2 Phil Thiel, 1 Oli Kilifi.
Replacements:  16 Joe Taufetee, 17 Zach Fenoglio, 18 Mate Moeakiola, 19 Titi Lamositele, 20 Cam Dolan, 21 Al McFarland, 22 Mike Petri, 23 Chris Wyles.

Venue: Olympic Stadium, London
Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)

By Ross Hastie in London