By Kemantha Govender
Durban – South Africa have overcome an extremely tough Samoan side 13-5 to reach the knock-out stages of the Rugby World Cup.
The Boks were collected under serious pressure and displayed excellent discipline during the brutal encounter at the North Harbour Stadium. The Boks didn’t concede any penalties and the Samoan try was only the second one against them in the group stages.
The game had some intense moments, including the one in which the first red card was awarded. Welsh referee Nigel Owens, who on a few occasions had to warn Samoa to keep it tidy, showed Paul Williams a red card for striking flanker Heinrich Brussow in the face.
Owen’s decision was made on a recommendation from English assistant Graham Hughes.
Springboks skipper John Smit, after a few minutes on the field, was sin-binned for deliberately knocking the ball on.
South Africa had signalled their intentions early on the game when Morne Steyn attempted a drop goal in the second minute but it drifted wide. Frans Steyn’s long-range penalty rebounded off the bar.
It was Bryan Habana who put the Boks first points on the board with a fantastic try. The Bok wing tore through the Samoan defence to score South Africa’s only try of the game. Morne Steyn had no issue making the conversion.
Frans took an outstanding penalty kick that gave the Boks a convincing lead (13-0) at halftime.
The Boks were really put to the test in the second half when a resilient Samoan side showed up. The Samoans did make many errors at the breakdown and struggled at the set-piece.
George Stowers, however, gave them some hope with his try but Tusi Pisi failed to convert and narrowed the gap.
The Boks missed out on a possible second try when a driving maul saw Bismarck Du Plessis carry over the line. Video evidence, however, was inconclusive as to whether he had grounded the ball.
Shalk Burger was chosen as the man-of-the-match.
Springbok captain Victor Matfield on the day said: “It was very tough. First-half we played alright but in the second-half, we went to sleep and Samoa played with a lot of heart.
“Somehow, we kept them out. We have been working hard on our defence but we need to work hard on our attack. We wasted a lot of turnovers today.”
Samoa’s captain Mahonri Schwalger thanked all the fans for their support, and bowed out with their Haka.
Meanwhile, more light will be shed on injury concerns on Monday after Habana left the field with an injury. His replacement Francois Hougaard was also in need of medical attention.
With more group matches needing to be completed, South Africa will now face either Ireland, Australia or Italy in the quarter-finals.
South Africa 13 (Bryan Habana try; Morne Steyne pen, con, Frans Steyn pen)
Samoa 5 (George Stowers try)
HT: 13-0. – BuaNews