Brilliant Bryan Habana scored a second-half hat-trick to equal Jonah Lomu’s record of 15 World Cup tries on Wednesday as South Africa hammered the United States 64-0 to book their Rugby World Cup quarter final place.
Habana is closing on the all time Test try record of 69 held by Japan’s Daisuke Ohata. He is now level with former Wallabies wingers David Campese’s mark on 64.
The Springboks scored 10 tries in the most lopsided match of the World Cup so far against a US side showing 12 changes from their previous Pool B clash.
Victory saw South Africa, shock 34-32 losers to Japan in their opening match, secure top place in the pool.
They will now face the losers of Saturday’s Pool A fixture between Australia and Wales in an October 17 quarter-final at Twickenham.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer made just two, injury-enforced changes, to the team that beat Scotland 34-16 for Wednesday’s match.
Lwazi Mvovo replaced wing JP Pietersen, while prop Frans Malherbe came in for Jannie du Plessis. Both Pietersen and du Plessis have knee injuries.
The United States, yet to win a match at this World Cup, fielded a virtually different team to the one that that lost 25-16 to Samoa ahead of their concluding pool fixture against Japan in Gloucester on Sunday.
Despite those changes the Americans made a bright start, but hopes of another upset had all disappeared at the break, with Folau Niua and South Africa-born Niku Kruger both missing kickable penalties.
South Africa went 7-0 up in the seventh minute through centre Damien de Allende’s converted try.
Poor Springbok handling saw de Allende take the ball off the floor, before going through a huge gap in the defence and under the posts for his first Test try.
There was a nasty moment when Habana, chasing a high ball, and Blaine Scully collided in a clash that saw the US full-back land head first.
Both players left the field soon afterwards for head injury assessments before returning.
Pollard and centre Jesse Kriel, well tackled by Kruger, were both held up short of the US line.
The ensuing five-metre scrum went down and, after Pascal Gauzere warned the Eagles, another slumping set-piece saw the French referee award the Springboks a 27th-minute penalty try.
Pollard added the extras to give his side a 14-0 lead as former Springbok skipper Jean de Villiers, whose international career ended with a jaw injury he suffered in the Samoa match, looked on from the stands.
Scully intercepted a South Africa pass near his own line and broke clear before he was hauled down on half-way by de Allende and Pollard.
South Africa caught the US cold at the start of the second half
Stand-in skipper Fourie du Preez’s well-judged grubber kick was gathered by the dashing Habana, whose try was upheld after the television match official, checking for possible offside, ruled he had not been in front of his scrum-half.
Fly-half Handre Pollard then landed a difficult conversion.
Another strong scrum saw No 8 Duane Vermeulen break before hooker Bismarck du Plessis powered his way over to make it 26-0.
From then on it was a rout, Habana adding two more trademark sprint finish tries in quick succession as the American floodgates opened.