South Africa’s Cobus Reinach yesterday scored the fastest hat-trick in Rugby World Cup history as the Springboks all but assured themselves of a place in the quarter-finals with a 66-7 hammering of Canada.
The Springboks ran in 10 tries, including seven in a first half that featured scrumhalf Reinach’s 11-minute treble.
That was quicker than Australia fullback Chris Latham’s 25-minute hat-trick in a 142-0 thrashing of Namibia in Adelaide, Australia, at the 2003 World Cup.
South Africa led 47-0 at the break against an outclassed Canada, who had to play more than half the match a man down after replacement lock Josh Larsen was sent off.
However, Canada, just six days on from a 63-0 loss to reigning champions New Zealand, avoided a whitewash thanks to flanker Matt Heaton’s try.
The bonus-point victory should see two-time world champions South Africa into the last eight after an opening Pool B defeat by the All Blacks, with hosts Japan — who stunned the Springboks 34-32 at the 2015 World Cup in England — looming as possible opponents.
“It was scrappy in stages, but I can’t moan about 10 tries,” Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus said. “Obviously, they got a red card that made it a little bit easier for us. So overall, not too bad.”
Canada, who have appeared in every World Cup, have one more chance for a win at this edition when they face fellow minnows Namibia in Kamaishi on Sunday, a game captain Tyler Ardron described as “hugely important.”
“It’s a game we’ve really targeted. We want to put our best performance out and we really want to get a result out of that,” Ardron said.
Erasmus made 13 changes to the side that overwhelmed Italy 49-3, but they still proved far too strong for Canada, with the Springboks opening the scoring in just the third minute when Damian de Allende scored a try under the posts.
Jantjies then kicked the first of eight successful conversions.
More good handling saw flanker Kwagga Smith send in left wing S’busiso Nkosi at the corner.
Then came Reinach’s hat-trick, spanning the 10th to 21st minutes.
It started with a superb solo effort, the scrumhalf breaking from a ruck inside his own 22, chipping over the last defender and regathering before sprinting clear.
Snyman and fellow lock Franco Mostert then combined to send in Reinach, capitalizing on some weak tackling, for the bonus-point score.
With Canada reeling, Reinach claimed his third try. Jantjies’ cross-kick was pulled down by Warrick Gelant, the wing finding de Allende, who in turn released the onrushing Reinach.
Gelant then went over himself after a fine pass from Jantjies.
The biggest cheer of the night came when Canada prevented a whitewash in the 46th minute.
Canada captain Tyler Ardron won a line-out and set up a rolling maul, with wing Jeff Hassler just short, but flanker Heaton eventually forced his way over for a try converted by Nelson.
There was still time for three more Springbok tries, including a first in Tests for Damian Willemse.
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