South Africa’s Rugby World Cup back on track thanks to Pietersen
It’s fair to say that 2015 has been a pretty rough year for South African rugby, after a winless Southern Hemisphere Rugby Championship campaign and losing their World Cup opener to minnows Japan left them wounded animals.
Springboks struggles were put behind them, however, as Heyneke Meyer’s men recorded a handsome 46-6 Pool B victory over Samoa to restore the rugby world to its axis.
JP Pietersen inspired South Africa’s recovery, as they came from 6-3 down after 12 minutes with the winger running in three tries at Villa Park.
Samoa’s early dominance of possession saw them take charge with Michael Stanley kicking two penalties, but the fly half then saw an errant pass end up in the hands of Pietersen to cross in the corner.
Pacific Island nation Samoa continued to approach the game with phase play, keen to exploit a long-standing weakness of the Springboks, but rather was detracted from by sloppiness at line-outs, with Victor Matfield snatching possession.
A strong, driving maul allowed Pietersen to cross again just after half-time, with quick hands and selling the Samoans dummies now a feature of ascendant South Africa. Schalk Burger followed suit to give the heavyweights a healthy lead.
Rugby World Cup history was made with three Pisi brothers all on the field for Samoa. Springboks replacement Schalk Brits then grabbed a try within minutes of coming off the bench at 34.
Samoa’s early discipline crumbled here with four first-half penalties conceded, and Pietersen nipped in to complete his hat-trick two minutes from time. South Africa legend Bryan Habana completed the crossing and Pat Lambie converted.
Conversions were an area of profligacy in this game, however, with previous kicker Handre Pollard failing to follow up his four penalties by missing three opportunities to add further points after tries.
A win that steadies a Springboks ship that was decidedly shaky in their opener suggests they mean business. What price South Africa continue to rally and win the Rugby World Cup? It’s 9/1!