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#RWC10: Springboks edge outstanding Tonga

The Pacific Islanders nearly shocked a second-string South Africa but the Springboks eventually ran out victors with four tries to three in front of a capacity crowd.

FILE: Springbok flanker Juan Smith scores a try in the match against Tonga at the 2007 Rugby World. Picture: AFP

CAPE TOWN - South Africa fought off a courageous late surge from Tonga winning 30-25 in a thrilling match in Lens on Saturday.

The Pacific Islanders nearly shocked a second-string South Africa but the Springboks eventually ran out victors with four tries to three in front of a capacity crowd.

South Africa held a 7-3 halftime lead, but the incoherent Boks then trailed 10-7 early in the second half before Frans Steyn leveled the absorbing match with a 54th-minute penalty goal.

Tonga were undoubtedly prepared for the physical exchange and buoyed by the crowd, their intensity indicated belief that an upset was possible.

South Africa sensed this as well and coach Jake White responded by bringing on their big hitters off the bench in an effort to wrestle back control of the match.

It worked perfectly, as the Springboks accumulated 20 unanswered points in a lucrative 15-minute spell midway in the second half which should have put the Tongans away.

However, Tonga still believed and hit back with tries from Sukanaivalu Hufanga and Viliami Vaki. The tries took the score to 27-22 with eight pulsating minutes remaining.

Thereafter penalties were exchanged before Tonga attempted one more stab at the South African try line but they held firm to see out the tense affair.

South Africa finish top of their group and will play their quarter-final match against the runner-up of Pool B in Marseille on 7 October.

Talking Points

• South Africa’s squad depth questioned
• Complacency
• Secured top spot in Pool A with win

Match 3 Pool A, Lens:

South Africa 30-25 Tonga

SA tries:
Pienaar (2)
Smith
Skinstad

Conversions:
Pretorius 1/1
Montgomery 1/3

Penalties:
Steyn 1/1
Montgomery 1/1

Tonga tries:
Pulu
Hafanga
Vaki

Conversions:
Hola 2/3

Penalties:
Hola 2/3

Man of the Match:
Finua Maka

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