Scrumhalf Cobus Reinach scored the earliest hat-trick in a Rugby World Cup match as the Springboks secured their place in the quarter-finals with a 10-try victory over Canada at Kobe Misaki Stadium on Tuesday.
Reinach took just 21 minutes to dot down three times as Canada – who also lost replacement second-row Josh Larsen to a red card in the 35th minute – conceded seven tries and 47 points by half-time. To their great credit, and despite being a man down, the Canucks lost the second half by only 12 points.
The Boks, who needed a bonus-point win to guarantee a place in the last eight teams, took just 18 minutes to score the four tries they needed.
Dynamic second-row and Player of the Match RG Snyman set the tone with a midfield line-break, and outside-centre Damian de Allende ambled over for the opening touchdown after three minutes.
South Africa were scoring at more than a point a minute as left-wing S’Busiso Nkosi dived over in the corner after a strong run by No.7 Kwagga Smith.
Reinach, who missed out on selection for Rugby World Cup 2015, showed the world what he is capable of when he broke clear from a scrum and chipped the ball over the last Canada defender to regather and finish off a wonderful five-pointer, pictured above, and it was 19-0 to South Africa after only 10 minutes.
The Bok forwards were powerful in the scrums and dominated the collisions, with the Canucks forced to defend for most of the first half.
It seemed inevitable that South Africa would claim their four-try bonus point in the first half, and it duly arrived courtesy of Reinach’s second, following another Snyman surge forward.
Northampton Saints halfback Reinach – the son of former South Africa wing Jaco Reinach – tends to keep up with team-mates who break through the opposition defence, and that was the case after right-wing Warrick Gelant motored through. Gelant fed De Allende, and Reinach strolled over for his hat-trick – the fifth South African to achieve the feat at the World Cup.
Gelant did get on the score-sheet soon afterwards to make it 40-0 – then came the Larsen red card.
With Canada on the attack inside the Bok 22-metre area, Larsen – who had come on for Kyle Baillie in the 12th minute – charged into a ruck to try to clean out South Africa loose-head prop Thomas du Toit. After the incident was studied by the TMO, Larsen was dismissed for making contact with Du Toit’s neck with a shoulder charge. It was the first time in World Cup history that a replacement player had been shown a red card in the first half.
Inside-centre Frans Steyn finished off the opening half in style with the seventh try after he intercepted a pass by Canada scrum-half Phil Mack, and the match was over as a contest at 47-0 to the two-time champions.
There was at least some joy for the Canucks early in the second half, when flanker Matt Heaton forced his way over the line after a lineout, much to the delight of the crowd.
But the South Africans were not done yet, with Schalk Brits, Damian Willemse and Frans Malherbe all crossing the try-line. Fly-half Elton Jantjies slotted eight conversions to end with 16 points.
Now coach Rassie Erasmus has to wait until Sunday to find out who the Boks will face in the quarter-finals in Tokyo.
For South Africa:
Tries: De Allende, Nkosi, Reinach 3, Gelant, Steyn, Brits, Willemse, Malherbe
Cons: E.Jantjies 8