MARSEILLE – South Africa had to work hard to eventually earn a 49-18 bonus point victory against a brave Tongan team in front of 60387 passionate supporters in the Stade de Velodrome Marseille on Sunday evening.
Even though the scoreline suggests a comfortable victory, the Boks did not achieve their goal of a 36 point margin of victory which was needed for a better points differential than Ireland.
Siya Kolisi’s charges lead 21-8 at halftime and scored seven tries to Tonga’s three.
It was enough to give them the bonus point which means they are top of Pool B.
They however now have to nervously wait for the outcome of next week’s game between Ireland and Scotland.
If Ireland wins it means South Africa will most likely meet the host nation France in the quarterfinals at the Stade France in two weeks time.
The Bok coaching staff would be particularly happy with the performance of flyhalf Handre Pollard after his comeback from a long injury enforced layoff.
Pollard was not only accurate off the kicking tee, but he kicked well out of hand and carried the ball strong into contact.
Deon Fourie, who started in his first test for the Boks at hooker. put in solid performance in the middle of the scrum and was named man of the match.
His lineout throws were accurate, and he displayed his usual brilliance in the tight loose and at the breakdowns putting in numerous tackles, as well as scoring a try from the back of a line-out maul.
Tonga drew first blood when their flyhalf William Havili slotted an early penalty. South Africa immediately hit back with a well taken try from scrumhalf Cobus Reinach.
The Springboks managed to thwart a sustained onslaught from Tonga for around 15 minutes with resolute defence on their tryline.
Canan Moodie then slit open the Tongan defence in the midfield to score the Boks second five-pointer before Fourie scored his first World Cup try.
Tonga were rewarded for their tenacity just before halftime when their captain Ben Tameifuna powered his way over the chalk from close range for the Pacific Islanders’ first try.
Havili failed to add the extras making the halftime score 21-8 in the favour of the defending World Champions.
After the break Jesse Kriel – on as a replacement for winger Makazole Mapimpi who left the field with a suspected fractured jaw – scored the Boks fourth try after sustained pressure.
Pollard slotted all four conversions.
The Tongans fought back and were rewarded for their efforts when right wing Fine Inisi crossed over for their second try. Havili once again did not convert.
Fullback Willie le Roux broke the shackles and finally scored the much needs bonus point try with replacement flanker Marco van Staden stretching the lead when he crossed the whitewash for the Boks sixth try.
At this stage it seemed as if the Boks would run away with the game, but Tongan replacement back Patrick Pellegrini scored his side’s third try against the run of play.
Replacement loose forward Kwagga Smith however had the final say when he crossed over for the Boks seventh try.
Manie Libbok continued where Pollard left off by adding three conversions to make the final score 49-18.
In the end the Boks got the bonus point they were looking for, but allowing Tonga to cross their line thrice means they remain in arrears by six points behind world number one Ireland.
South Africa – Tries: Cobus Reinach, Canan Moodie, Deon Fourie, Jesse Kriel, Willie le Roux, Marco van Staden, Kwagga Smith. conversions: Handre Pollard (4), Manie Libbok (3)
Tonga – try: Ben Tameifuna, Fine Inisi, Patrick Pellegrini, penalty: William Havili