BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND – Two-time Rugby World Cup winner South Africa bounced back from a surprising loss to Japan on the opening weekend of this year’s competition by beating Samoa 46-6 on Saturday.
The Springboks’ victory at Villa Park means Japan, Scotland, Samoa and South Africa all have one win in Pool B ahead of Sunday’s game between the Scots and the United States in Leeds.
“At the moment I think our pool is still wide open, it’s anyone’s game. We’ve got Japan (next game) and I’m sure Japan are ready for us,” said Samoa coach Stephen Betham.
Panasonic Wild Knights wing JP Pietersen bagged a hat trick of tries, Suntory Sungoliath’s Schalk Burger had one and Schalk Brits and Bryan Habana also crossed.
Man-of-the match Handre Pollard, who will join NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes after the tournament, banged over four penalty goals and a conversion, and Pat Lambie also kicked a conversion.
On the day host England was beaten 28-25 by injury-depleted Wales, the Springboks started like the wounded animal they were, matching the Pacific islanders hit for hit in a physical encounter.
With both teams trying to run the ball when they could, it made for an entertaining game. But the South Africans, who featured six starters who will be lining up in Japan’s Top League in 2015-2016, had the edge at the breakdown and made full use of the balls that came their way.
“I thought our forward play was superb. I said to the players, ‘People don’t respect our forwards any more. It’s time we put up our hands and play like South African forwards,’ ” coach Heyneke Meyer said.
Samoa, which takes on Japan on Oct. 3, put in its customary big tackles but seemed to lack any real game plan other than some inspired running from Tim Nanai-Williams, who will suit up for Ricoh Black Rams after the tournament.
Michael Stanley banged over two first-half penalties for the Pacific islanders to keep them close at 17-6 at the break.
But the second half was a different affair as the Springboks ran away with the game.
“We had to win. If we didn’t win today we would have been in a very difficult situation to qualify for the quarterfinals,” said Pietersen.
“We were open about it all week, on the situation that we were in, and the only way to get out of the situation was (up to) ourselves. We told ourselves that if we win our remaining three games then we will definitely qualify.”
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