Record-breaker Habana proves bad neighbour for Namibians

South Africa 87 Namibia 0
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Bryan Habana became South Africa's record try scorer as the holders showed little mercy in romping to a 12-try, 87-0 victory over Namibia yesterday to edge within sight of a quarter-final berth.

The two-time champions were far too good for their African neighbours in Auckland with winger Habana claiming his 39th Springbok try to end a 15-month drought and move one ahead of former scrum-half Joost van der Westhuizen.

The victory, their third after beating Wales and Fiji, leaves South Africa in pole position to top Pool D and set up a probable quarter-final against Tri-Nations champions Australia. The Springboks face Samoa in their final Pool clash.

Although the win was never in doubt and the margin the biggest in the tournament so far, the 16 handling errors, including 10 in the first-half, concerned coach Peter de Villiers who praised captain John Smit for rectifying the problems. "I am very pleased with what we achieved today. We started off loose then got our act together," De Villiers said. "All credit to John who regrouped the team. Great game."

Recalled winger Gio Aplon scored the opening try in the seventh minute after a neat interception by Smit before Habana raced in from 40 metres for the momentous second 15 minutes later after a teasing flat pass by lock Danie Rossouw.

De Villiers had opted to go with a number of first-choice players in his line-up despite the inferior opposition and, in the pack especially, the experience told. Numerous scrum penalties conceded by Namibia near their line resulted in Irish referee George Clancy awarding a penalty try on the half hour.

The Springboks claimed the four-try bonus point seven minutes later when centre Jaque Fourie collected a neat offload by Frans Steyn in the tackle to run in under the posts.

Namibia have never won a World Cup game and, barring a couple of bright linebreaks by flanker Tinus Du Plessis and their quick winger Heine Bock, they never threatened as the Springboks went in 31-0 up at half-time. And the tries flowed in the second half as the Springboks became more clinical.