Smit's Boks increase their intensity to flatten Fiji

South Africa 49 Fiji 3: World champions hit stride after wobble against Wales but coach warns of sterner tests ahead
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The Independent Online

The South Africa captain, John Smit, hailed a "quality" first-half display after seeing his side's power game dismantle Fiji in their second World Cup Pool D match.

The world champions had been dire in their first match, a 17-16 win over Wales that could have been lost if a contentious penalty-kick decision had gone in favour of the Welsh, but their direct running and suffocating defence proved too good for the South Sea islanders, who only registered a penalty from Seremaia Bai. Tries from Gurthro Steenkamp, Jaque Fourie, Frans Steyn, Morne Steyn, Tendai Mtawarira and the man of the match, the second row Danie Rossouw (who was playing in place of the injured Victor Matfield), sealed a bonus-point win for Peter de Villiers' side. The fly-half Morne Steyn kicked 13 points for a personal haul of 21.

The groundwork was laid by a first 40 minutes that produced a 21-3 lead and Smit said: "We had some work to do and we put in a quality first 40. It was what we needed and I'm happy to keep a team like Fiji off our tryline.

"Last week I wouldn't [have given] ourselves a very good mark. This week we were controlling the game both when we had the ball and [when we] didn't have the ball. We played closer to how we prepared"

De Villiers, however, warned that his team will still have to step up their efforts, and his words were given added resonance later in the day when Ireland's win over Australia opened up the likelihood of the Springboks having to face the Wallabies, who beat them at home and away in the recent Tri-Nations, in the quarter-finals. South Africa have two pool games still to play, against Namibia and Samoa.

De Villiers said: "Fiji dominated the first 20 minutes and we missed five or six tackles that gave them momentum in the game. We can't allow that going forward. We pride ourselves on our defence and it worked pretty well in our favour but we must be ruthless on defence."

Fiji ran the Springboks close in a quarter-final in Marseilles four years ago and they had high hopes of doing so again, but they were comprehensively outmuscled and their captain, the prop Deacon Manu, acknowledged that they had not been able to answer the world champions.

He said: "It was a difficult game today and South Africa showed why they are world champions. They played with intensity for 80 minutes and it was a difficult old time for us. That was a fantastic Springboks side. In my opinion they're better than the Springboks side from four years ago."

South Africa: P Lambie; A Ndungane (F Hougaard, 54), J Fourie (J de Jongh, 70), F Steyn, JP Pietersen; M Steyn, F du Preez (R Pienaar, 70); G Steenkamp (T Mtawarira, 64), J Smit (capt; B du Plessis, 54), J du Plessis, B Botha (W Alberts, 47), D Rossouw, H Brussow, P Spies, S Burger.

Fiji: K Murimurivalu; V Goneva, G Lovobalavu, S Bai (R Fatiaki, 74), N Nalaga; W Luveniyali (N Little, 65), N Kenatale (V Buatava, 54); C Ma'afu, S Koto (T Tuapati, 65), D Manu (capt; W Nailago, 71), L Nakarawa, W Lewaravu (N Talei, 74), D Waqaniburotu, S Matadigo (S Koyamaibole, 51), A Qera.

Referee: R Poite (France).