Rugby World Cup 2007
Springboks sweep Samoa aside
September 9, 2007
Bryan Habana, who scored four tries in the match, looks to break a Samoan tackle
© Getty Images
Bryan Habana announced his arrival at the 2007 World Cup with four tries as South Africa eased past Pool A opponents Samoa. Full-back Percy Montgomery weighed in with 29 points - including a try double - while centre Jaque Fourie and wing JP Pietersen also touched down.
Samoa flickered during the first half as centre Gavin Williams converted his own well-worked try, yet the Springboks then scored 50 unanswered points. England are next up for Habana and company at Stade de France next Friday night, and South Africa will go into that pivotal encounter as overwhelming favourites.
Springboks coach Jake White, doubtless with one eye on next Friday's showdown with England, named all his star names, including Bryan Habana, Percy Montgomery and Victor Matfield. Samoa though, fancied their chances of causing an upset, despite losing three injured players from their squad during the past fortnight.
Coach Michael Jones paraded a team packed with Guinness Premiership personnel, but considerable attention surrounded substitute Brian Lima. The former Bristol back was one appearance away from creating a World Cup record of playing in five successive tournaments, with Jones vowing to send him on at some stage of the action.
Conditions were overcast, but mild, as South Africa looked to make an immediate statement of their world title credentials. The Springboks were clearly rattled, and they began throwing out ambitious passes that were either knocked on or flew aimlessly into touch.
Samoa, seemingly inspired by Argentina's stunning victory over host nation France in the tournament opener, never remotely threatened to take a backward step. Roared on by cries of `Allez, Les Bleus,' Samoa enjoyed a spell of dominance that gave South Africa serious food for thought.
But their response was spectacular as Habana scored a memorable solo try, weaving his way through heavy traffic in the Samoan defence to edge South Africa further in front. Samoa ended the half defending their own line as South Africa, lifted by Habana's try, looked for another score and Montgomery obliged in stoppage time by storming over wide out and adding the conversion.
Samoa thought they had reduced the gap within two minutes of the restart, but referee Paul Honiss disallowed a seemingly good try for offside. South Africa then lost centre Jean De Villiers with an arm injury, and his place in midfield was taken by Francois Steyn.
It took Steyn just three minutes to make his mark, delivering an exquisite pass latched on to by centre Jaque Fourie, whose pace out-stripped the Samoan defence. Montgomery added the conversion for a 28-7 lead, and Samoa were suddenly up against it as South Africa eased through the gears, threatening further tries during the final 30 minutes.
Montgomery added a second touchdown following further impressive work by Steyn, giving South Africa their bonus point on 53 minutes, which underlined England's inability to step things up against inferior opponents in Lens yesterday.
Samoa were now striving to hang on, but they started missing tackles and Habana did not require a second invitation to make them pay, carving the South Sea Islanders open to claim another brilliant try. Montgomery's conversion made it 40-7, leaving Samoa facing a damage limitation exercise during the final quarter.
Lima arrived to set a new World Cup record on 61 minutes, but he lasted just three minutes before leaving the field dazed after being on the wrong end of a crunching midfield collision. Habana then completed his hat-trick - Montgomery again added the extras - and Samoa could not wait for the final whistle, trailing 47-7.
Habana had not finished though, sprinting clear to claim his fourth try on 75 minutes that took South Africa past a half-century, then fellow wing JP Pietersen added the final touchdown.
South Africa (21) 59
Samoa (7) 7
South Africa: Montgomery; Pietersen, Fourie, De Villiers, Habana; James, Du Preez; Du Randt, Smit, Van der Linde, Bakkies Botha, Matfield, Burger, Smith, Rossouw.
Replacements: Du Plessis, BJ Botha, Muller, Van den Berg, Januarie, Pretorius, Steyn.
Samoa: Lemi; Faatau, Williams, Meafou, A Tuilaga; Sapolu Fuimaono, Poluleuligaga; H Tuilagi, Setiti (capt), Leo; Thompson, Fekori, Johnston, Schwalger, Va'a.
Replacments: Fuga, Lealamanua, Vaeluaga, Purdie, Sevealii, Crichton, Lima.
Referee: P Honiss (New Zealand)