Habana sets Boks tries record in World Cup romp
Updated: September 22, 2011, 08:09
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AUCKLAND, New Zealand(AP) Bryan Habana set a South Africa try-scoring record with his 39th in an 87-0, 12-try rout of Namibia in their World Cup derby in North Harbour Stadium on Thursday.
Habana equaled Joost van der Westhuizen's record in June 2010, and finally ended his 11-test drought, the longest of his seven-year career, in the 22nd minute.
The Springboks turned over ruck ball on halfway and lock Danie Rossouw's pass missed two teammates to give Habana the overlap in front of the main grandstand. As soon as he received the ball, the knowing crowd started roaring, and when he slid into the in-goal the applause was sustained.
"I'm living the dream,'' Habana said. "It's a privilege to be able to play for the Springboks and hopefully contribute to their success. I have to thank my teammates and coaching staff - without them these 39 tries would mean nothing.''
Habana was more animated off the field than he was on it. After scoring he didn't break into a smile, just merely accepted congratulations and ran back into position to wait for the restart.
It was that kind of work mentality that marked the first hour, as South Africa was made to play in overdrive to subdue the Namibians' effort in a classic little-brother-versus-big-brother clash.
Only when the Springboks made a rash of replacements after three quarters, sending in the likes of Ruan Pienaar, Juan de Jongh and Beast Mtawarira, was Namibia overwhelmed. The injection of energy opened the floodgates and the Boks scored six converted tries in the last 20 minutes, sending the vast majority of South Africans in the crowd of 26,839 home in buoyant mood.
Scrumhalf Francois Hougaard, a ball of energy all night, was rewarded with a pair of tries, and two each were also touched down by Gio Aplon and de Jongh. Rossouw, Morne and Frans Steyn, and Jaque Fourie also scored tries, and the Boks scrum earned a penalty try.
Morne Steyn didn't miss any of his seven shots at goal and finished with 20 points. Pienaar kicked the other six conversions.
On a perfect night for running rugby, the defending champions posted their highest ever World Cup score and equaled their tournament-best winning streak of 10 set by their predecessors in 1995 and 1999.
The Springboks head to their last Pool D match against Samoa in eight days having scored 153 points in three games and conceded only two tries.
"Pretty pleased, we're making progress,'' captain John Smit said. "The first 40 we got sucked into a few bad habits. Little bit too loose too early and we had to refocus at halftime, stuck to our guns, got a bit more shape and obviously got a little bit more reward in the second half as well. It was a good run out.''
Namibia expected a tournament-record 14th successive defeat, but this was the match they most looked forward to, and despite plenty of pluck in the first hour, the gloss of a typically game effort was ruined by the finish.
"Very disappointing,'' captain Jacques Burger said. "We said coming into this game we were going to keep the mistakes down to a minimum and we just made too many mistakes, and a good side like the Boks are just going to cut you apart - and that's what they did tonight.
"It's not over. On Monday we've got Wales. Another tough one. But we've got to get our heads up and we've got to work hard and just get back on the horse and try and give a better performance next time.''