Cobus Reinach and Makazole Mapimpi scored hat-tricks as the Springboks ran riot to blank Romania 76-0 in their World Cup pool game in Bordeaux on Sunday, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.
It was one-way traffic as the defending champions banked the fastest bonus point in World Cup history, needing just 11 minutes and 13 seconds, and scored 12 tries in all against the outclassed Oaks.
Our top three Springbok standouts were:
Reinach showed his veteran quality across the board, but of course, it’s his hat-trick that has South Africa buzzing. The experienced scrumhalf became just the sixth player to score multiple hat-tricks at the Rugby World Cup, having scored the fastest-ever tournament triple in 2019.
He looked on course to break his own record as he ran in his first two tries in the opening 10 minutes, strolling in from a scrum and doubling up with a darting run, but it wasn’t to be quite as fast as his hat-trick against Canada four years ago with his third coming after the pack pushed Romania off their own ball in the 24th minute.
He was good in general play, his exit kicks were excellent as he twice found touch deep inside Romania’s half, he launched a few contestable kicks and he made a quality cover tackle on Marius Simionescu before signing off in the 46th minute.
Mapimpi took over the baton from Reinach in the second half, scoring a brace to complete his hat-trick after having opened his account in the seventh minute.
Matthew Pearce put it beautifully on commentary when he said Willie le Roux and Mapimpi were the perfect blend in Bordeaux as the veteran fullback, who didn’t have his best game, gave him the scoring pass on all three occasions.
His long-range second try was his best, a scintillating swerve seeing him beat Gabriel Pop one-on-one. The 33-year-old truly had a day to savour as he became the second-fastest Springbok to score 25 tries and came away with the Man of the Match award in what was his 40th Test.
The only man quicker to 25 tries? That would be the legendary Bryan Habana, who did it in just 29 Tests.
Marco van Staden
It was a tough call between Van Staden and Kwagga Smith as the latter was a ball of energy and a bloodhound at the breakdown, where he seized three turnovers.
However, Van Staden got the nod for his sterling back-row work and seamless switch to hooker for the final quarter. Yes, Romania are a Tier 2 team, but to deliver at hooker in the manner he did was mightily impressive and encouraging given he’ll double as third-choice cover there following Malcolm Marx’s tournament-ending injury.
He got into the game early with a fifth-minute breakdown penalty, scored but had his try disallowed due to obstruction, made a strong carry in midfield that created a try-scoring opportunity, scrummed well at hooker and was on target with all of his lineout throw-ins, one of which resulted in Mapimpi’s hat-trick try.