Three off as Boks march on

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Canada 0 South Africa 20

Tries: Richter 27, 34

Con: Stransky 27, 34

Pen: Stransky 17, 47

THE LIGHTS went out last night on the World Cup. The start of this match was delayed for 35 minutes when the floodlights failed to work, and then, after 70 minutes of good, hard and often delightful rugby, a dozen or so players blew a fuse, a bloody punch-up broke out, and three men were sent off.

James Dalton of South Africa and Rod Snow of Canada were dismissed by the referee, David McHugh, and with them, most surprisingly, went Gareth Rees, the Canadian captain. As a result of the free-for-all, Hannes Strydom, the South African lock had to leave the field with blood pouring from his face. It took most of the shine off a victory that sends the Springboks into the quarter-finals and it is certainly not the way the Canadians would have wanted to bid farewell to the tournament, especially as they have been hugely popular guests in Port Elizabeth. When the match ended the Canucks ran a couple of lengths of the pitch, applauding the crowd and waving a banner that read "Thank you, PE".

There was no such cordiality 10 minutes earlier. Given the flurry of punches that had broken out, it was almost impossible for the referee to pick out the main offenders for expulsion. The television replay, however, showed that if anyone should have gone it was Scott Stewart, the Canadian full-back who ran some distance to take part in the fighting.

What had preceded it was instantly forgotten, but the Canadians had acquitted themselves extremely well and showed a determination to run at the Springboks, who had struggled to establish any early superiority but won the match with 17 points in a 20-minute burst in the first half.

It started with a penalty by Joel Stransky, before two converted tries from push-over scrums were scored by Adriaan Richter. The Canadians spent long periods camped on the South African line but finished empty-handed, Stransky's second-half penalty proving to be the only further score.

What the match will produce, though, is hours of analysis of the video of the trouble. The match committee were studying it last night and the Canadians said they would be looking at it today to decide on a course of action. It is certain that Dalton will be suspended for the rest of the tournament.

An unrepentant Rees appeared at the press conference afterwards, and said: "I don't regret getting involved. I regret getting sent off, but I don't think I disgraced myself. We're a very tight team. This is a side that lost 73-7 to New Zealand recently. There's a great deal of soul-searching been done by the players since then and I can't defend them enough."

Ray Skett, the Canadian team manager summed the situation up precisely: "The game started in the dark and it finished blackly. It was a heck of a melee out there."

Canada: S Stewart (Univ of BCOB); W Stanley (Univ of BC), C Stewart (Western Province), S Gray (Kats), D Lougheed (Toronto Welsh); G Rees (capt, Newport), J Graf; E Evans (Univ of BCOB), M Cardinal (James Bay), R Snow (Dogs), A Charron (Ottawa Irish), G Ennis (Kats), G McKinnon (Britannia Lions), I Gordon (James Bay), C McKenzie (Univ of BCOB).

South Africa: A Joubert (Natal); G Johnson, C Scholtz (Transvaal), B Venter (Free State), P Hendriks (Transvaal); J Stransky (Western Province), J Roux (Transvaal); G Pagel (Western Province), J Dalton (Transvaal), M Hurter (Northern Transvaal), K Wiese, H Strydom, F Pienaar (capt, Transvaal), R Brink (Western Province), A Richter (Northern Transvaal).

Referee: D McHugh (Ireland).