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September 9th, 2007
Bryan Habana sizzled in the Paris sunshine, proving red hot
and too hot for Samoa in the Springboks’ World Cup opener.
Jean de Villiers was the biggest casualty in the Springboks
first appearance at Parc de Princes in a decade, but the
biggest winners were veteran fullback Percy Montgomery and
the speed merchant Habana.
De Villiers looked gutted as he left the field in the 43rd
minute, clutching his left arm, but his replacement Frans
Steyn made an immediate impact as the Boks strolled to a
A decade ago the Boks smashed France 52-10 and on Sunday
they were good enough to score 50 points again, albeit
against inferior opposition.
The contest was physical and the Samoans were competitive
for 50 minutes. But they never had the class or polish to
threaten an upset victory. They scored a popular try through
centre Gavin Williams and the crowd warmed to them on a
splendid afternoon at a wonderful stadium that has lost none
of its appeal. The French love the underdog but their rugby
public also knows the game and they were as enthusiastic in
their applause of the individual class among the Springboks.
Bryan Habana was the most impressive of the Boks, announcing
himself at the RWC with a quartet of tries, Steyn was a
menace to the tiring Samoan defence, Percy Montgomery was
masterful in his control from the back and the lock pairing
of Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha controlled their own
and most of Samoa’s lineout ball.
Springbok captain John Smit has always said that while the
scoreboard historically has been handsome to the Boks in
tests against Samoa, it has never told of the toil needed to
down the Samoans. Sunday was no exception and the Boks,
despite the run away score, were in a war of attrition.
Just how much the match took out of the Boks will only be
evident on Friday against England and the one additional day
of recovery between matches definitely gives England an
The Boks, in scoring 50-plus points, were good without ever
being brilliant but this was to be expected as they spent
the first 40 minutes repelling the Samoan Sunday assault.
The Samoans are a charitable nation and their players gave
everything in the tackle. But they were never going to be
able to sustain the intensity beyond the first half and you
always sensed the Boks knew this. Their afternoon was summed
up when Brian Lima knocked himself out trying to cut Andre
Pretorius in half. Lima had only been on the field for two
minutes, but his attempt to add Pretorius to his greatest
World Cup hits highlight package ended in self-destruction.
Lima mistimed the hit and he was the one who staggered off.
Pretorius, fortunately, lives to play again in this
The Boks ran all 22 players, with Smit’s 60 minute workout
heartening after a three month injury-enforced absence. All
three South African loose-forwards also had their ribs
tested by the Samoan No 8 Henry Tuilagi, who at 126
kilograms is a beast. Tuilagi broke the first tackle every
time, but these Boks hunt in a pack when they defend and
Tuilagi was the one eventually forced from the field with a
chest injury. Victory to the Springboks in that clash and
victory to the Boks in every sense of the word.
Springboks - Tries: Bryan Habana (4), Percy Montgomery (2),
Jaque Fourie, JP Pietersen. Conversions: Montgomery (5).
Penalties: Montgomery (3).
Samoa - Try: Gavin Williams. Conversion: Williams.
Posted by keo | Keo.co.za