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Springboks hammer USA to reach quarters

SPRINGBOKS

South Africa’s number 8 Duane Vermeulen (C) is tackled during a Pool B match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between South Africa and USA at the Olympic Stadium, east London. (AFP PHOTO)

LONDON, October 7 – Brilliant Bryan Habana scored a second half hat-trick to equal Jonah Lomu’s record of 15 World Cup tries on Wednesday as South Africa hammered the United States 64-0 to book their quarter final place.

Habana is closing on the all time Test try record of 69 held by Japan’s Daisuke Ohata. The South African is now level with Wallaby hero David Campese’s mark on 64.

The Springboks, only 14-0 up at the break, scored 50 points in the second half at a rainswept Olympic Stadium.

Eight of their 10 tries came after the break against a US side showing 12 changes from their last Pool B outing.

This was the biggest winning margin in this World Cup so far and the Americans were the first team to fail to score at the tournament.

“I’m very pleased we didn’t give away a try because defence wins World Cups,” said South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer.

“Brian is always the guy that comes through in big games for me. I’m so proud of him, not just as a rugby player but as a human being.”

Eagles coach Mike Tolkin said: “The first half, I’m so happy the way the guys played, they poured their hearts out. The second half, they put us under pressure.”

– Top Springboks –

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Victory saw South Africa, shock 34-32 losers to Japan in their opening match, secure top place in the pool.

The Springboks, world champions in 1995 and 2007, will face the losers of Saturday’s Pool A fixture between Australia and Wales in an October 17 quarter-final at Twickenham.

Meyer made just two, injury-enforced changes, to the team that beat Scotland 34-16.

Lwazi Mvovo replaced wing JP Pietersen, while prop Frans Malherbe came in for Jannie du Plessis. Both Pietersen and du Plessis have knee injuries.

The United States, yet to win a match at this World Cup, fielded a virtually different team to the one that that lost 25-16 to Samoa. They rested players ahead of their potentially more winnable concluding pool fixture against Japan on Sunday.

Despite the changes, the Americans made a bright start. But hopes of another upset quickly disappeared.

South Africa went 7-0 up in the seventh minute through centre Damien de Allende’s converted try.

Poor Springbok handling saw de Allende take the ball off the floor, before going through a huge gap in the defence and under the posts for his first Test try.

There was a nasty moment when Habana, chasing a high ball, and Blaine Scully collided in a clash that saw the US full-back land head first.

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Both players left the field soon afterwards for head injury assessments before returning.

Pollard and centre Jesse Kriel, well tackled by Kruger, were both held up short of the US line.

The ensuing five-metre scrum went down and, after Pascal Gauzere warned the Eagles, another slumping set-piece saw the French referee award the Springboks a 27th-minute penalty try.

Fly-half Handre Pollard added the extras to give his side a 14-0 lead.

Scully intercepted a South Africa pass near his own line and broke clear before he was hauled down on half-way by de Allende and Pollard.

South Africa caught the US cold at the start of the second half

Stand-in skipper Fourie du Preez’s well-judged grubber kick was gathered by the dashing Habana, whose try was upheld after the television match official, checking for possible offside, ruled he had not been in front of his scrum-half.

Another strong scrum saw No 8 Duane Vermeulen break before hooker Bismarck du Plessis powered his way over to make it 26-0.

From then on it was a rout, Habana adding two more tries in quick succession, with Francois Louw (two tries), Jesse Kriel, and Lwazi Mvovo all crossing as well.

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Habana could have broken Lomu and Campese’s marks late in the game, but knocked-on in sight of the line.

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