World Cup round-up: Springboks are the team to beat, says Fiji's Manu

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The Independent Online

South Africa have been described as "the side to beat" by Fiji captain Deacon Manu after his side suffered a heavy 49-3 defeat to the Springboks in Wellington on Saturday.

"In my opinion, they're a better Springboks side than the one that won the World Cup four years ago and they're going to be one of the teams to beat, if not the team to beat, this year," prop Manu said.

Six well-taken tries meant that South Africa also collected a bonus point, and now top Pool D with two games to play. One of the try-scorers, Morne Steyn, also kicked 16 points including a 60-metre penalty from well inside his own half.

Despite this dominant display, captain John Smit believes his side are still not hitting their top form: "The intention is to get better every week, and this is a good stepping stone for where we need to go." Smit, who captained the Springboks for a record 81st time in Wellington, was also delighted with their improvement from the 17-16 win against Wales. "Last week I wouldn't give ourselves a very good mark. This week we were controlling the game both when we had the ball and didn't have the ball. You couldn't say the same last week," he said.

Meanwhile, Argentina head coach Santiago Phelan was quick to highlight the confidence he believes his side have drawn from their emphatic 43-8 win over Romania at the weekend. "It's important that Argentina scored many points, which is something we haven't achieved for some time," he said. "The team is growing and that gives us confidence going into the next game against Scotland."

Indeed the game against Scotland on Sunday will be crucial for the Pumas; with England expected to win the group, the game is likely to decide who qualifies as Pool B runners-up.

Argentina were without their captain and fly-half Felipe Contepomi following his rib injury sustained during the narrow defeat to England, but his replacement, Santiago Fernandez, impressed, scoring his team's opening try, and, by the half-hour mark, the Pumas had already secured their bonus point with three more tries.

Stand-in skipper Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe praised his team for their ruthlessness: "We had no other option today but to win. But what's also important is the way we won and the way we stuck to our game plan."

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