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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Springboks Crush Eagles In Record Defeat

With the Springboks fielding a very strong line-up and the U.S. fielding mostly reserves the fear heading into the match was that the Eagles were going to suffer a large defeat in their third match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup. For a half it didn't look that way despite the dominance of South Africa as the U.S. had two missed penalties and only trailed 14-0 with some solid spells of play. Unfortunately South Africa woke up in the second half as they pumped in try after to leading into the Eagles largest World Cup defeat at 64-0. It's also the first time this year that a team has been held scoreless and the first time for the U.S. since 1987.

As they have done all tournament the U.S. came out playing well and physical. South Africa on the other hand were sloppy at times throughout the first half and ill-disciplined. That nearly cost them early as the U.S. had a long penalty kick only to see Niua's kick fall just a meter short.

South Africa continued to put the pressure on the Eagles, particularly at the scrum where they earned an early penalty but the U.S. defense held firm. When the Eagles did have the ball they were able to keep possession for long stretches, something that didn't happen three years ago as a result of handling errors. Still, it wasn't enough to keep South Africa out and when Damien De Allende found a gap in the U.S. defense he put the Springboks up 7-0 with just 7 minutes gone.

Take the jump to read more.

Throughout the first 15 minutes the U.S. had 79% of the possession but were only able to kick another penalty kick out of it. This time it was Niku Kruger (who took the right-footed penalties) only to see his kick clang off the post. If the U.S. kicks had gone in they would have only been down one.

The match got really physical around the 20 minute mark when Blaine Scully and Bryan Habana collided in the air. Both were shaken up and went off for concussion tests but were able to come back on.

The U.S. defense was able to hold strong for most of the first half (including holding up and stopping a couple of tries) but the one area they had major problems was the scrum. Time after time the Springboks went to the scrum and eventually they earned a penalty try around the 27th minute. While the scrum didn't actually collapse on the penalty that earned the try a penalty try was a long time coming. It was an area of the match the Eagles were hoping wouldn't be a problem before the match but it didn't go their way.

Each team had chances the rest of the half, including Blaine Scully intercepting a pass eerily similar to the way Todd Clever intercepted a try on Taku Ngwenya's famous try in 2007, but neither was able to convert and South Africa led 14-0 at the break.

Any hope the U.S. had of keeping it close soon went out the window in the second half when Bryan Habana scored from a Fourie du Preez grubber. It all started when Francois Louw stole the ball at the breakdown. Just a few minutes later it was Bismarck du Plessis with the try to secure the bonus points for South Africa.

From then on it was all Springboks with Louw (twice), Damien De Allende, Jesse Kriel, Lwazi Mvovo, and Habana (twice more) all notching tries. For Habana his hat-trick equalled Jonah Lomu's World Cup scoring record at 15. Overall there was little the U.S. could do to turn back the Springbok tide. The South Africans were simply too solid and the U.S. too raw on the international stage to come back.

After the match captain Samu Manoa said: "We played well in the first half. We just have to close it out in the second half. I'm proud of the boys." Mike Tolkin added: "A great effort in the first half by our boys. Once the Springboks got on the front foot it was a tough juggernaut to stop."

While the Eagles will be massively disappointed by the result the scheduling of the World Cup the realistic target was always going to be resting the starters for the Japan match. After the match it's something both Manoa and Tolkin keyed in on. "Japan has to be our goal," said Tolkin. "It's our last game of the tournament. The guys are keyed up for it." Manoa added that "We can do this next job (Japan). We've played some good rugby. If we don't get a win I'll still be proud of the boys."

South Africa

Tries: Habana (3), Louw (2), Penalty, de Allende, du Plessis, Kriel, Mvovo
Conversions: Pollard (4), Steyn (4)



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