SA overwhelmed the US after a nervous first-half display to run out 64-0 victors in their RWC Pool B encounter at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London, on Wednesday evening.
The bonus-point victory ensures that the Boks will finish Pool B winners ahead of their march into the quarterfinals, where they will play either Wales or Australia.
Earlier, there was no evidence that the match would end so one-sided after the USA Eagles restricted the Boks to mere 14-0 lead at halftime. But an eight-try second-half rout blew the Eagles off the park.
The Boks were never allowed to settle down from the kick-off and their movement lacked a semblance of cohesion and fluidity. As it turned out, that was much the case for the rest of the first half.
The Eagles surprisingly took the game to the heavier Springbok forwards and did a great job of protecting their ball. In the first 15 minutes of play, the Boks were forced on the defensive for a sustained spell and made an incredible 15 tackles.
Centre Folau Niua and Pretoria-born scrumhalf Niku Kruger spurned early scoring chances when they were off target with penalty attempts for the Eagles.
From the first scrum of the match, in the fourth minute, the Boks showed their supremacy at the set-piece and the Eagles were never able to measure up and later on, in the 27th minute, they conceded a penalty try after they were blown up twice in quick succession for collapsing scrums.
The Boks opened the scoring in the match with a debut Test try by inside centre Damian de Allende in the 7th minute after scrappy play from the back of a driving maul. Flank Schalk Burger had a significant hand in the scoring move after he flicked the ball off the ground to the supporting runners.
Flyhalf Handrè Pollard goaled both conversions to give the Boks a 14-0 lead and the South Africans were able to extend this lead although De Allende, lock Eben Etzebeth and outside centre Jessie Kriel were held up just short of the whitewash.
Rightwing Bryan Habana (SA) and fullback Blaine Scully (USA) were forced to leave the field briefly for concussion tests after a mid-air collision while fielding an up-and-under in the 22nd minute. Both were able to return to action some six minutes later.
Going into the halftime trailing by a mere 14 points would have pleased the USA who were fielding a weakened side with the eye on keeping several first-choices in cotton wool ahead of their final Pool B match against Japan on Sunday.
The Boks would have been concerned that ever so often ball did not go to hand in several upfield surges and they were unable to exploit their supremacy at scrum time to a greater extent.
At the start of second-half play, the Boks needed only six minutes to impose themselves spectacularly on the match with two answered tries which also secured the bonus point.
The two-try spree was sparked by wonderful turn-over by flank Francois Louw and in ensuing play, scrumhalf Fourie du Preez kicked a grubber past the Eagles’ defence and Habana pounced.
Moments later, eighthman Duane Vermeulen peeled off the back of a scrum and then hooker Bismarck Du Plessis was on hand to dive over from the recycled possession. Pollard managed one conversion and the scoreline went to 26-0.
In the 52nd minute, Louw joined the growing list of try-scorers when a driving maul proved too much to contain for the Eagles. Pollard converted (33-0).
By this time, the brave Eagles display which offered such stout resistance in the first half started giving way to a docile performance and it was just a matter of how much the Boks could overwhelm their opponents.
The floodgates continued to open in the 58th minute when De Allende broke through a yawning gap in the Eagles’ backline and Habana was on hand to score. The 80 000-strong crowd were hardly back in their seats when Habana was in with his third try of the match after the Eagles spilt the ball at a ruck close to their tryline.
Mornè Steyn who came on as a replacement for Pollard converted both tries in the Boks’ 14-point burst (47-0).
In the 68th minute, the Bok juggernaut again bulldozed their way over the whitewash and Louw was handily placed for the touchdown, the eighth in the match. Steyn missed the conversion as the Boks past the half-century mark (52-0).
Four minutes, Jesse Kriel ran in the Boks’ ninth try after an instance of crisp service from substitute scrumhalf Rudy Paige, and with Steyn failing to add the extras the scoreline moved ahead to 57-0.
Lwazi Mvovo bagged the 10th try of the match in the dying minutes of the match and Steyn’s conversion finally rounded off the scoring in what was the Boks’final pool match at RWC 2015 (64-0).
Scorers: South Africa 64 (14): Tries: Damian De Allende, Penalty try, Bryan Habana (3), Bismarck Du Plessis, Francois Louw (2), Jesse Kriel, Lwazi Mvovo. Conversions: Handrè Pollard (4), Mornè Steyn (3).
USA 0: – ANA