Cobus Reinach scored the earliest hat-trick in World Cup history as the Springboks thrashed Canada 66-7 on Tuesday to clinch their place in the World Cup playoffs. JON CARDINELLI at the Kobe Misaki Stadium reports.
Men against boys. How else could one describe the contest under the roof at the Kobe Misaki Stadium on Tuesday?
Rassie Erasmus’ move to rest most of his first-choice players did little to dilute the team’s attacking potency. A particularly ruthless physical and tactical display set the platform for 10 magnificent tries.
Reinach’s speed from the base amplified the Boks’ high-tempo approach. The scrumhalf scored three tries in the first 20 minutes to become the fastest to the hat-trick milestone in World Cup history – surpassing Wallabies fullback Chris Latham’s 25-minute effort in 2003.
Canada battled to live with the Boks at the collisions. RG Snyman ran at the defence like an inside centre, muscling past would-be tacklers and using that trademark awareness and offloading ability to find the support runner whenever he was eventually brought to the turf.
Elton Jantjies marshalled the attack well from the set pieces, while Damian Willemse – playing in his first World Cup match – proved a devastating first-receiver option in later phases. For the first time in this campaign, the Boks held their passes to convert their attacking dominance into tries and points.
Canada attempted to fight back toward the end of the half. Their best passage of play, however, culminated in a red card for Josh Larsen.
The reserve flank was sent off for charging into the side of a ruck and making contact with Thomas du Toit’s head. The Boks snatched another try before the half-time gong to lead 47-0 at the break.
The Canadians had little answer to the Boks’ speed and physicality when the contest was 15 versus 15. With Larsen ejected, the 14-man side was staring down the barrel of a record thumping.
They showed some spirit in the early stages of the second stanza. Matt Heaton’s try in the 47th minute received the loudest cheer of the evening as the local fans started to get behind the underdogs.
At one stage, Canada appeared on track to concede 100 points. In the end, they only leaked 26 in the 44-minute period when they were a man down, which should be some consolation given the magnitude of the challenge and the quality of the opposition.
The Boks took some time adjust after Erasmus made several changes at the start of the fourth quarter. Jantjies remained at No 10 while Handre Pollard was brought on at inside centre. With Steyn and Willemse also on the park, the Boks were spoiled for playmakers.
Erasmus should be reasonably pleased with the outcome of this fixture. Canada didn’t provide the physical challenge that the Boks were hoping for, but the South Africans produced a sharper attacking showing and some of the fringe players and second-choice combinations enjoyed a decent run ahead of the playoffs.
The result moves the Boks up to first place on the Pool B log. The All Blacks will regain top spot if they beat Italy in their final pool clash on Saturday.
Springboks – Tries: Damian de Allende, S’bu Nkosi, Cobus Reinach (3), Warrick Gelant, Frans Steyn, Schalk Brits, Damian Willemse, Frans Malherbe. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (8).
Canada – Try: Matt Heaton. Conversion: Peter Nelson.
Springboks – 15 Damian Willemse, 14 Warrick Gelant, 13 Damian de Allende, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 S’bu Nkosi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Francois Louw, 7 Kwagga Smith, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 RG Snyman, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Thomas du Toit. Subs: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Eben Etzebeth, 20 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Handre Pollard, 23 Willie le Roux.
Canada – 15 Andrew Coe, 14 Jeff Hassler, 13 Conor Trainor, 12 Ciaran Hearn, 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Peter Nelson, 9 Phil Mack, 8 Tyler Ardron (c), 7 Matt Heaton, 6 Lucas Rumball, 5 Kyle Baillie, 4 Evan Olmstead, 3 Jake Ilnicki, 2 Andrew Quattrin, 1 Hubert Buydens. Subs: 16 Benoit Piffero, 17 Djustice Sears-Duru, 18 Matthew Tierney, 19 Josh Larsen, 20 Mike Sheppard, 21 Jamie Mackenzie, 22 Shane O’Leary, 23 Guiseppe du Toit.
Photo: Getty Images