The Springboks outplayed African neighbours, Namibia, by 57-3 (halftime 31-3) in the City of Toyota Stadium in their Rugby World Cup clash on Saturday to claim a first win in Pool B.
Despite outscoring Namibia by nine tries to nil, it was scratchy at times for the Springboks, who used their lineout with devestating effect. Bongi Mbonambi (hooker) scored a brace from line out drives close to the opponents line and Francois Louw and Schalk Brits also benefitted from strong play in this aspect of play.
There were some sparks of excellence amongst the backs at times, with Makazole Mapimpi (winger) getting a brace and Warrick Gelant (fullback) also touching down from good attacks by the backline.
From a defensive perspective the Springboks will point to the Namibian scoresheet to underline their success in this regard. The fact that Namibia had two players sin-binned in the match and offered only 14 players on defence for 20 minutes will weigh heavy on the Springboks’ minds though.
Rassie Erasmus said afterwards the Boks had accomplished their mission.
It was all South Africa in the opening stanza. They applied early pressure with the first kick of the Namibians charged down and only desperate defence keeping a run by Gelant unrewarded. A strong scrum by the Boks had Brits over the line for a score, but for the slightest of knock-ons.
The South Africans kept up the pressure and only left the Namibian 22 after Mbonambi scored from a strong lineout drive by his pack. Elton Jantjies struck the conversion sweetly to have the Boks up by seven after 10 minutes.
The Boks reverted to sort again soon after, this time allowing Louw to dot down for a first test try against the Namibians in his second Rugby World Cup Test against them. Jantjies missed the conversion, but the Springboks were up and running.
Frans Steyn ran strongly from the resulting kick-off and Namibian No 8 Adriaan Booysen slapped down a resulting Springboks pass, which earned him a yellow card and left his team a man short at the resulting lineout. A strong drive saw Mbonambi bag his second and Jantjies converted.
This had the Boks up 19-0 after 20 minutes, rewarding their 90% ball possession.
Some sloppy handling by the Boks momentarily halted their scoring spree and allowed Namibia a rare break-out into the Springbok half.
They used that opportunity too good effect, attacking through the outside channels, and when the Boks went offside, Cliven Loubser struck a penalty goal though the uprights to get the Namibians on the board. This would have pleased them, still being a man down.
The Springboks struck back immediately though as Gelant ran onto a very flat pass from Herschel Jantjies and then used soft hands to send Mapimpi away unchecked for his first try. The original flurry of points subsided as both teams got into their game plans and the nerves and defences settled down.
A late flurry on attack from the Springboks, after the half-time buzzer, saw the fifth try scored, with Lukhanyo Am running onto a pass from Brits in a move that started a dozen phases earlier in their own half. The Boks led 31-3 at the break.
The match restart delivered a first opportunity for Namibia to close the gap, but Loubser struck the post with a penalty attempt from 30 meters out and the chance was gone.
Thomas du Toit was the first replacement to be used after 45 minutes, coming on for Vincent Koch at prop, but it was Gelant who grabbed headlines next.
After starting a counter-attack in his own half, Gelant found Am who ran strong and hard before an inside pass back to the Bok fullback, who jogged in a for his second Test try.
Jantjies kicked another pearler from close to the touchline.
The lineout again provided impact for the South African attack, but it was a run from Brits, following secure possession that allowed Mapimpi to score from the space created. Jantjies kicked his fifth conversion to bring the Boks closer to the 50 mark.
Amongst the replacements used in the final 20 minutes was Siya Kolisi, and the Bok captain used some space out wide to glide in for his first contribution of the match and a sixth Test try overall. That brought up the 50 after an hour of rugby.
Aranos Coetzee was given a yellow for poor discipline at a lineout, taking out Brits with a shoulder, and his team paid for it. From the resulting lineout, Brits, now at hooker, got over the line and extended the lead.
The remaining minutes saw the Springboks too frantic and loose on attack and Namibia holding their own on defence. They made 130 tackles to the 73 by the Springboks, who missed 10 of those. Namibia missed 36.
South Africa – Tries: Bongi Mbonambi (2), Francois Louw, Makazole Mapimpi (2), Lukhanyo Am, Warrick Gelant, Siya Kolisi, Schalk Brits; Conversions: Elton Jantjies (6).
Namibia – Penalty goal: Cliven Loubser.