Springboks stun in Bordeaux against Romania
A BIG win for South Africa in France…
The Springboks sometimes fizzed and sometimes ground their way to a 76-0 (half-time 33-0) victory over a brave but ultimately outclassed Romania in their second Rugby World Cup Pool B match in Bordeaux on Sunday.
The Springboks scored 12 tries – with hat-tricks for Cobus Reinach and Makazole Mapimpi and a brace for Grant Williams – and increased their points’ difference for the tournament to 91. They moved on to nine log points from scoring a try-scoring bonus point in this match to add to their opening round victory over Scotland (18-3).
The match was played in slippery underfoot and humid conditions which was compounded when persistent drizzle set in after 20 minutes. The Boks had scored four tries (and had had a fifth ruled out by the TMO up to that point), to rack up the fastest bonus point in the history of the Rugby World Cup.
The greasy ball and treacherous footing inevitably saw the scoring rate slow in the middle but the 12 tries still equalled the Boks’ RWC record set in an 87-0 win over Namibia in 2011.
However, the win sets up what has long been being billed as a pool-deciding clash with Ireland at the Stade de France in Paris on Sunday (kick off 21h00) – although Scotland may yet have something to say about that in the pool-concluding match against their Celtic neighbours next month.
Kwagga Smith was all over the field and put in another massive performance.
Bok coach Jacques Nienaber made 14 changes to the starting line-up – retaining only Damian Willemse, who moved from fullback to flyhalf – but had to make a last-minute change to the starting team with Vincent Koch injuring a knee during the warm-up. His place in the starting XV was taken by Trevor Nyakane with Frans Malherbe drafted in with a warm-up as the replacement tighthead prop.
Despite the disruption the Boks flew out of the starting blocks and racked up four tries in first 11 minutes – two of them to Reinach – who completed his hat-trick before the interval; his second at a Rugby World Cup after scoring three against Canada in 2019.
For the first he dummied his way untouched to the line from the back of a five-metre scrum and brushed aside one tackle to dash in from 40 metres for his second after Romania had lost the ball in midfield. Reinach’s third was a present from his pack who drove Romania off their own ball on the five-metre line.
In between, Willemse produced a beautiful sidestep to bamboozle one would-be tackler after the tireless flanker Kwagga Smith had won a turnover.
Cobus Reinach scored his second RWC hat-trick for the Boks.
A fifth belonged to Mapimpi who switched inside onto Willie le Roux’s pass to score halfway out on the left after the ball had been swung wide from a driven lineout and carry by centre Andre Esterhuizen on the right.
Deon Fourie and RG Snyman came on at the start of the second half and the former resumed the scoring at the back of a driven maul within two minutes – his first in a Bok jersey.
Romania’s forward resistance was almost visibly draining out of their legs and that was confirmed when the seventh score – arrived thanks to a penalty try – after a Romanian scrum scuttled backwards and wheeled at a rate of knots.
Scrum dominance led to an eighth as Williams slalomed back on an inside pass from Esterhuizen to bisect the space between the Romanian backline and the scrum, curving away from the last line and double back to score by the poles.
Makazole Mapimpi was named Player of the Match.
Nienaber brought on Faf de Klerk at flyhalf and move flanker Marco van Staden into the hooking position with Fourie going to the side of the scrum for the last 20 minutes as the coach tested the versatility of his squad.
The wings then scored three tries in seven minutes – one to Williams and two to Mapimpi – the best of them the third to complete the latter’s hat-trick, which was started from the Boks’ 22 and moved through four sets of hands before Mampimpi skinned his opposite number to dive in at the corner.
The record-equalling 12th try arrived with five minutes to go, a backline move being finished by Le Roux who sold an outrageous dummy to run in from 50 metres. Mission accomplished for the Boks who move on to Paris on Monday, and their date with destiny against Ireland next weekend.
Springboks 76 (33) – Tries: Cobus Reinach (3), Makazole Mapimpi (3), Damian Willemse, Deon Fourie, Penalty try, Grant Williams (2), Willie le Roux. Conversions: Willemse (5), Faf de Klerk (2).