Bryan Habana became the sixth man to score 50 Test tries as South Africa romped to a 56-23 victory over 14-man Samoa to win the four nations trophy at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
The winger joins Japanese pair Daisuke Ohata and Hirotoki Onozawa, Australia’s David Campese, Shane Williams of Wales and England’s Rory Underwood in reaching half a century of tries.
Habana’s 50th was the standout moment in a scrappy match that left Samoa with little credit for their play with the ball or their ungentlemanly tactics without it.
South Africa’s eight tries came from Habana (two), Francois Louw (two), J.J. Engelbrecht, Bjorn Basson, Morne Steyn and Trevor Nyakane, while Filo Paulo and Junior Poluleuligaga managed consolations for the islanders.
The two teams came into the game unbeaten after wins over Italy and Scotland, but it was the hosts that dominated.
It did, though, take South Africa close to 20 minutes to score their first try, with fullback Willie le Roux timing his pass to perfection to set Habana over in the corner.
The second try was typical Springbok play as they mauled the ball up from a lineout, allowing Louw to simply fall over the line.
The hosts were looking to run the ball at every opportunity and Samoa’s repeated infringements as they tried to slow down play resulted in a yellow card for prop Logovi’i Mulipola.
Scrumhalf Jeremy Su’a was fortunate not to receive a red card for what looked like a stamp on Louw’s head at a ruck which left the Springbok flanker bloodied.
By that time the home side were well on top and Engelbrecht showed excellent footwork for their third try, dancing his way out of three attempted tackles to race over the line.
The Springboks managed another try before halftime, using the width of the field to set winger Basson free in the corner.
The second half descended into chaos at times, with no structure, and more nastiness on and off the ball.
Filo Paulo barged his way over the try-line to give Samoa some hope, but from then on they seemed more interested in disrupting South Africa than playing rugby themselves.
Samoa fullback James So’oialo was penalized, but not carded, after being adjudged by the TV match official of grabbing hooker Adriaan Strauss in an “indecent manner” at the ruck, his hand ending up between the legs of the enraged front-rower.
Samoa were permanently reduced to 14 men after Alesana Tuilagi’s high tackle on Springbok captain Jean de Villiers, while Census Johnston was fortunate not to be sent from the field for kicking out at Coenie Oosthuizen after a tackle by the prop.
In between all the infringements, some decent rugby was played and Habana was sent clear in the corner for his 50th Test try after good work from Ruan Pienaar drew the defense.
Steyn added South Africa’s sixth score after a breakaway.
Habana was then yellow-carded after he was ruled to have knocked the ball down deliberately and Samoa scored their second try shortly after through Poluleuligaga.
Following Louw’s second effort, replacement prop Trevor Nyakane completed the rout with his first try in a Springbok shirt on the night Habana reached his milestone.
SCOTLAND 30, ITALY 29
Scotland flanker Alasdair Strockosch crashed over the try-line after the final hooter to secure a dramatic victory over Italy at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
The try provided a simple conversion chance for Greig Laidlaw to clinch a first win for Scotland in the final game of their three-match tour of South Africa. They lost to Samoa and the Springboks.
Italy dominated the match at the scrum, forcing a penalty try from one set-piece to go with an early score from winger Leonardo Sarto.
Scotland ran the ball well in the opening half and scored tries through Matt Scott and Sean Lamont, before snatching victory at the death.
Italy made a fast start and scored the opening try from the kickoff when winger Sarto ghosted through a gap in the Scotland line to touch down 50 seconds into his Test debut.
It was an open start and Scotland’s reply was almost instant, lock Tim Swinson finding generous space in the Italy line and his break allowed Scott to score.
Italy were architects of their own downfall for Scotland’s second try as they had the opportunity to clear a ball chipped toward their line, but Gio Venditti inexplicably tried to run the ball out.
When he coughed it up in the tackle, it provided a simple chance for Lamont to touch down under the posts.
Much had been spoken of how crucial the scrums would be in the match and it was obvious from the start that Italy had the upper hand.
After giving up two scrum penalties in succession 5m from their own line, when Italy provided more pressure at the third attempt, the Scotland pack collapsed and referee Leighton Hodges awarded a penalty try.
The teams traded penalties after that and went into the break locked at 20-20.
The second half became a place-kicking duel, with Italy flyhalf Alberto di Bernardo slotting three attempts at goal to end the match with 19 points and put Italy 29-23 ahead with 80 minutes showing on the clock, but Strockosch collected the ball 15m out and after Italy No. 8 Sergio Parisse had dashed out to try intercept the pass, he broke through a hole in the defensive line to score.
ARGENTINA 29, GEORGIA 18
AFP, BUENOS AIRES
Argentina came back from a 12-9 halftime deficit to beat Georgia in a one-off Test on Saturday.
The win for the Pumas came after they had suffered back-to-back defeats to England — 32-3 and 51-26 — the previous two weekends.
Martin Bustos Moyano kicked 24 points for Argentina, with their only try coming in the closing stages from Thomas Cubelli.
For Georgia, fullback Beka Tsiklauri kicked 15 points from four penalties and a drop, while Lasha Malaguradze completed his side’s scoring with another penalty after 72 minutes.
PACIFIC NATIONS CUP
Nemani Nadolo and Napoliani Nalaga ran in tries as Fiji scored 20 points in the second half yesterday to beat Tonga 34-21 in Tokyo, Japan, and win the Pacific Nations Cup.
Tonga took an 11-0 lead with a try by Fraser Anderson and two penalties by Thomas Palu.
Tries to Sireli Bobo and Nalaga allowed Fiji to erase the deficit and leave the scores level at 14-14 at halftime.
Nadolo and Nalaga crossed after the break to give Fiji the lead for good and a late penalty by Seremaia Baikeinuku in the 74th minute put the result beyond doubt.
A penalty by Palu and a late try by Tonga captain Nili Latu was all the scoring Tonga could manage after the break.
Fiji finished the tournament with 16 points, three ahead of Canada. Tonga were third with 10 points.
Japan beat the US 38-20 in yesterday’s second match in Tokyo to finish fourth.