In their final pool match of the Rugby World Cup 2023 at Stade de Marseille on Sunday, South Africa secured a resounding victory over Tonga, winning 49-18. The Springboks displayed their prowess by scoring seven tries during the game.
During the first half, tries from Cobus Reinach, Canan Moodie, and Deon Fourie propelled the Springboks to a 21-8 lead. The second half saw Jesse Kriel, Willie le Roux, Marco van Staden, and Kwagga Smith adding to the tally with additional tries. Fly-half Handre Pollard and his replacement, Manie Libbok, successfully converted all seven tries.
Tonga put up a spirited fight, with Ben Tameifuna, Fine Inisi, and Patrick Pellegrini managing to score tries of their own.
With this bonus-point victory, South Africa now leads in Pool B. However, their progress to the quarter-finals depends on the outcome of the match between Ireland and Scotland in Paris on October 7.
Jacques Nienaber, the head coach of South Africa, acknowledged the waiting game ahead, stating, “The other pool gets sorted out on Friday night and our pool gets sorted out on Saturday, so it’s a waiting game.”
Deon Fourie, who earned the Mastercard Player of the Match title, spoke about his versatile role, saying, “No, it was a good game. We expected a tough game. I’ve played hooker earlier in my career, so it wasn’t too bad. It went well today, and I’m glad.”
Siya Kolisi, who captained South Africa for the 50th time in tests, expressed his pride in the team’s effort, saying, “We knew they weren’t just going to lay down and give it to us. We made a couple of mistakes, but we fought to the end – really proud of the guys’ effort.”
After the game, Tonga’s captain, Tameifuna, exchanged jerseys with Kolisi, highlighting the respect between the two teams. Tameifuna praised South Africa and said, “South Africa are the best in the world, and it’s always tough to cross their line.”
Toutai Kefu, Tonga’s head coach, commended his team’s performance, emphasizing the importance of playing against the best in the world. He said, “That is what rugby is all about. You want to play against the best. That’s what makes the good players get out of bed so it was a fantastic experience for everyone today.”