Record-breaker Habana sinks Namibia
Huw Baines at North Harbour Stadium
September 22, 2011
Francois Hougaard rounds off the result with the Boks' 12th try of the match
© Getty Images
Bryan Habana etched his name into the record books as South Africa took another step towards the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals with a comprehensive 87-0 win over Pool D minnows Namibia at North Harbour Stadium on Thursday night.
The Stormers flyer bagged his 39th Test try early on in Albany, taking him one clear of Joost van der Westhuizen as the Springboks' leading try-scorer and breaking an 11-game scoring duck in the process.
He was ably assisted by livewire scrum-half Francois Hougaard, wing Gio Aplon and second-half replacement Juan de Jongh - who finished with braces - while Jaque Fourie, Frans Steyn and Danie Rossouw also crossed in a lopsided derby fixture.
Fly-half Morne Steyn bagged 20 points, including a try and the easy extras to a first-half penalty try, while Namibia were unable to muster anything of note in attack despite their commendable efforts in defence until late on, when South African fitness and experience came to the fore.
Peter De Villiers' Springboks will now turn their attention to a tough final encounter with Samoa, who must first face Pacific Island rivals Fiji in Auckland on Sunday, while a visibly tired Namibia will continue to fight the tournament schedule on Monday with a trip to New Plymouth to take on Wales.
Steyn opened the scoring with a simple third-minute penalty and the Springboks did not wait long for the first try of the night. Aplon benefited from soft hands by Hougaard, one of five changes made following last weekend's win over Fiji, to punish a Namibian mistake with a simple run to the corner from 30 metres. Steyn converted before Hougaard had a try chalked off by referee George Clancy due to a wonky lineout - one of a number of errors committed by the reigning champions when in sight of their second score.
Aplon then turned try-saver with a superb tackle on rampaging Namibian blindside Tinus du Plessis, with his intervention laying the platform for Habana's record-breaking score. Rossouw - so impressive against the Fijians - provided the assist with a well-timed pass, giving Habana the space to punish Namibia along the flank. Steyn was again accurate with the extras for a 17-0 lead on 22 minutes.
South Africa drove home their dominance at the scrum for a penalty try just before the half-hour mark and then wrapped up an all-important bonus point thanks to good work in midfield by Steyn. The Racing Metro midfielder stepped well and offloaded after quick lineout ball, giving centre partner Fourie a simple try under the posts. The conversion made it 31-0 at the interval.
South Africa picked up where they had left off after the restart, with Steyn cantering over after a break from Hougaard had splintered the Namibian line. Following another successful conversion Namibia threatened a riposte as fullback Chrysander Botha stepped through a couple of tackles, but the South African cover was up to the task.
Hougaard - in his final act at scrum-half before switching to the wing in place of Habana - laid the Springboks' sixth on a platter for Morne Steyn with a blindside break and as the Namibians tired a seventh was quickly added, De Jongh rounding off a strong support angle following a surge along the flank by No.8 Pierre Spies.
The floodgates opened in the wake of De Jongh's score as Aplon and Hougaard scampered over in quick succession, taking the score out to 66-0 as the game approached the 70-minute mark. Ulster's Ruan Pienaar added three quick-fire conversions after slotting in at fullback and also provided the killer blow for De Jongh's second, which arrived 10 minutes from time and rewarded another well-timed run from the Stormers centre.
With Namibia well and truly out of steam there were two further tries to come, the first going to Rossouw after a break from skipper John Smit and the second to Hougaard, whose pace and step was all too much for a stranded Botha.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Huw Baines is a freelance rugby journalist
As Scotland decides its future, Scrum Sevens looks at a group of players who transcended rugby both for country and the British & Irish Lions
Ahead of November's USA-All Blacks match, America's ESPN Magazine explains rugby to its readers who may not be familiar with the game
Tom Hamilton talks to World Cup-winning captain John Smit about life after rugby, his fears over the South African exodus and the World Cup