BORDEAUX, France (AP) — All of South Africa’s plans came to fruition Sunday at the Rugby World Cup.
The first goal was achieved in a crushing 76-0 victory over underdogs Romania, with hat-tricks from scrum-half Cobus Reinach and winger Makazole Mapimpi among the Springboks’ 12 unanswered tries in Bordeaux.
The defending champions scored their first four tries and a bonus point in 12 minutes, and Reinach fired from close range for his third try in the 24th minute, narrowly missing his own record for the fastest hat trick in the Cup of the World of Rugby. He set that number four years ago with three goals in 20 minutes against Canada.
South Africa passed five times in the first half and seven times in the second half to dismantle the Romanians in a one-sided Pool B match from the start.
Beyond the convincing results, South Africa has also made great progress through a series of experiments. At least one of them could have a significant impact on the business end of the tournament, starting with South Africa’s next group match, a huge showdown with top-ranked Ireland on the weekend. -next end.
Ireland showed they were ready by beating Tonga 59-16 on Saturday night.
Among the experiences, Grant Williams, starting scrum-half on the wing, collected two tries for South Africa in the second half. Faf de Klerk, yet another scrum-half showing his versatility, came on as fly-half and led the backline for the final 24 minutes.
And Deon Fourie, a flanker turned reserve hooker, marked his Rugby World Cup debut at 36 with a try in the middle of a rolling maul two minutes after coming off the bench at half-time. Fourie also hit his lineout jumps and found himself in the middle of the scrum which won a penalty try soon after.
“I’m particularly happy with some of the things we’ve tried,” Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber said.
Regarding Ireland, Nienaber said: “It will be a good game to see who finishes first and second in the pool, but there are still games to play (after that), so I don’t want to go too far.”
Fourie’s smooth transfer from the back row to the front row could be an important detail of South Africa’s powerful and widely expected victory given the loss of Malcolm Marx to tournament-ending injury this week.
Bongi Mbonambi, starter and captain against Romania, is the only No. 2 specialist on the team. Fourie, once a hooker early in his career, must now support Mbonambi for the rest of the tournament after Nienaber called up flyhalf Handre Pollard and not a hooker to replace Marx straight after the Romania match.
Another flanker, Marco van Staden, also trained at hooker and launched into the South African lineout in the final 10 minutes.
Against Romania, South Africa made 14 player changes to the team that secured its opening 18-3 victory over Scotland last weekend, but still started with eight winners of the Rugby World Cup team 2019, including Reinach and Mapimpi.
Reinach rushed to the back of a scrum, threw a dummy and drifted through a gap for the first try in the third minute and the Springboks were out. Mapimpi scored his first in the seventh, coming back from the left wing to receive a pass from fullback Willie le Roux.
After Reinach’s second goal, flyhalf Damian Willemse, Scotland’s only surviving starter, stepped up and smashed in the cross to score the bonus point try and 26-0 as the clock ticked at 12 minutes.
Going faster than a point per minute, South Africa were slowed by a burst of torrential rain midway through the first half.
Romania had one of its best moments in the downpour when center Taylor Gontineac made as good a run as his team had all day down the right wing. Gontineac’s father, Romeo, is a former Romania captain who played in the two teams’ last meeting at the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa.
The French sky cleared at half-time allowing South Africa to regain their rhythm. Fourie made an immediate impact, followed by a scrum penalty try, a double from Williams, two more from Mapimpi and a 50-yard run from Le Roux to cap off the victory.
Romania opened their World Cup against number one Ireland, losing that 82-8, and then against the number 2 Springboks, a start that would stress any team. Romania next has number 5 Scotland and finishes against Tonga.
“We have to rest first,” Romanian coach Eugen Apjok said. “We need to improve and learn from these two matches. We won’t have enough time to improve everything, but we will do everything we can to improve.”
AP Rugby World Cup: https://apnews.com/hub/rugby