Defending champions South Africa secured a dominant 49-18 victory over Tonga in their Pool B clash, putting them in a strong position to advance to the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals. Despite a vocal crowd supporting Tonga, South Africa capitalized on their opponents’ mistakes and displayed superior skill and experience. The Boks scored seven tries through Reinach, Moodie, Kriel, Fourie, Le Roux, van Staden, and Smith, although their performance was marred by errors, partly due to the physicality of the Tongans. Tonga managed to score three tries through Tameifuna, Inisi, and Pellegrini, becoming the first team in 17 World Cup games to score three tries against South Africa. With this win, South Africa topped the pool with 15 points, positioning them well for qualification to the next round. However, their confirmation depends on the outcome of the match between Ireland and Scotland. The only scenario in which South Africa would fail to progress is if Scotland earns five points and Ireland earns one, resulting in a three-way tie with all teams on 15 points, with the top two determined by points difference. South Africa captain Siya Kolisi acknowledged the challenge posed by Tonga and expressed hope that his team had done enough to secure their spot in the quarter-finals.
In another positive development for South Africa, flyhalf Handre Pollard made a successful return after 13 months, kicking all his conversions and playing for 50 minutes. His replacement, Manie Libbok, also maintained a perfect kicking record by converting all three attempts. This was a notable improvement for South Africa, as kicking had been a concern in their previous games. Despite Tonga spending much of the first half in South Africa’s half, the Boks managed to score three tries and take a 21-8 lead at halftime. Reinach, Moodie, and Fourie were the try-scorers for South Africa, while Tameifuna responded for Tonga with a close-range try. In the second half, Inisi and Pellegrini added two more tries for Tonga, taking advantage of a lapse in South Africa’s defense. However, South Africa maintained control of the game and added four more tries to secure a comfortable victory on paper, although it was a hard-fought battle on the pitch.
Tameifuna, Tonga’s captain, acknowledged the difficulty of playing against the best team in the world but expressed pride in his team’s performance. He highlighted the importance of matching South Africa’s intensity and commended his teammates for their efforts.
In conclusion, South Africa’s dominant victory over Tonga puts them in a favorable position to advance to the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup. Despite some errors in their performance, the Boks capitalized on Tonga’s mistakes and displayed their superior skill and experience. The outcome of the match between Ireland and Scotland will determine South Africa’s confirmation for the next round. Additionally, the return of flyhalf Handre Pollard and the team’s improved kicking record were positive developments for South Africa. Tonga put up a brave fight and managed to score three tries against South Africa, showcasing their determination and resilience.
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