DURBAN – Springbok scrumhalf Cobus Reinach rewrote a chapter of the World Cup record books yesterday when he scored the fastest hat-trick in the tournament’s history.
Reinach was sublime in his first ever World Cup start, scoring three tries within the opening quarter. His hat-trick came five minutes sooner than that of previous record holder Chris Latham in Australia’s rout of Namibia in 2003.
He was lightning quick off the mark and made a mockery of the defence around the fringes. Reinach’s first try was an absolute cracker. He broke from the Bok 22, chipped, chased, gathered then showed blistering pace to score under the crossbar.
After the match, coach Rassie Erasmus said with initial understatement that the performance had been “not too bad” but later conceded that he was “really happy”.
“That was a very positive performance and just what we needed going into the quarter-finals in that the we can now take two days off now before preparing for the quarters knowing that we’ve ticked all the boxes we needed to in the Pool games.”
In essence, that is pretty much what the Boks can take out of a game in which for 40 minutes the opposition forgot to tackle. Pre-match, Erasmus said he wanted to leave Kobe for Tokyo (where all the play-offs take place) with positive momentum and not having scrapped it out in a messy game, and he got his wish.
At half-time, though, Erasmus would have been asking himself how much he could read into a no-contest. In the one-sided first half, Canada in fact were doing a disservice to the Bok dirt-trackers in that it was difficult for the coach to take seriously any individual claims made against opposition playing touch rugby.
At 47-0 at half-time, it looked like the Boks would hit a century, particularly after Canada had a forward red carded four minutes before the break.
Instead that seemed to galvanise the North Americans who went onto concede just 26 points when they were down to 14. They discovered the fight they are usually known for and began tackling.
The first 15 minutes of the second half saw the Canucks not only stem the tide but, unbelievably, turn it around. They forced the sloppy Boks into conceding a series of penalties and then, remarkably a try.
But normal service was then resumed when Schalk Brits darted through defenders from close quarters.
Also in the second half, the Boks understandably became looser in their play. In the first half they ran hard through the ball to get over the advantage line, but in the second half they looking to make their passes too early.
In the highly clinical first half, there were Boks that stood out even when all in green were having a ball.
Apart from Reinach, Elton Jantjies shone thanks to the banquet of possession coming the way of the backs. The flyhalf’s kicking display was skilful and accurate.
But the best back was Sbu Nkosi. Every time he was involved in the game he made something of it, as he does every time he pulls on a Springbok jersey. He was playing in the No 11 jersey usually occupied by Makazole Mapimpi. Maybe leave him there for the quarter-finals in the only change to the “A” team starting line-up.
Scorers in the South Africa v Canada match
Tries: Damian de Allende, S’bu Nkosi, Cobus Reinach (3), Warrick Gelant, Frans Steyn, Schalk Brits, Damian Willemse, Frans Malherbe