REUTERS: South Africa secured top spot in Rugby World Cup Pool B with a crushing 64-0 win over the United States on Wednesday to put their shock defeat by Japan firmly behind them and they will play Australia or Wales in the quarter-finals.
Georgia overtook Tonga in third place in Pool C by edging Namibia 17-16 in an error-riddled match in Exeter where the first half lasted 68 minutes and the losers earned their first ever World Cup point, a bonus, in 18 defeats.
South Africa winger Bryan Habana equalled former All Blacks winger Jonah Lomu’s haul of 15 World Cup tries with a hat-trick as the Eagles became the first team in the tournament not to score any points in a match.
More than his own exploits, though, Habana was pleased with the team.
“That second-half performance has been as polished as I have been involved in with a Bok team,” he told reporters.
The Springboks, who scored 10 tries including a brace by flanker Francois Louw, will play their quarter-final against the losers of Saturday’s Pool A decider between the Wallabies and Wales at Twickenham.
Scotland and Japan will fight for the other last-eight berth in Pool B with the Scots holding a two-point advantage in second place. Scotland meet Samoa in Newcastle on Saturday while Japan face the US in Gloucester on Sunday.
In Exeter, Georgia Captain Mamuka Gorgodze led his team’s fightback from a 6-0 halftime deficit with a try which Merab Kvirikashvili converted to put them in front for the first time in the match.
Another converted try touched down by Lasha Malaghuradze and a penalty lifted them to 17 points which proved just enough to hold off a fine late try scored in the corner by flyhalf Theuns Kotze which he converted to add to his three penalties.
“It wasn’t our finest game but we are very happy to have qualified straight for the next World Cup,” Gorgodze said.
Tonga need an unlikely upset against New Zealand in their last Pool C match to snatch back the automatic qualifying berth for the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
All Blacks centre Ma’a Nonu will win his 100th cap after being named by the holders for the match in Newcastle on Friday.
New Zealand, who will stay top of the pool ahead of Argentina barring a huge upset, could face their occasional nemesis France if Ireland beat the French in Sunday’s Pool D decider in Cardiff.
The fallout from England’s early elimination continued with a newspaper report of a spat between attack coach Mike Catt and flyhalf Danny Cipriani after he was told he had been left out of the host nation’s squad.
A Rugby Football Union spokesman said, however, the argument over a practice drill had had no bearing on the gifted but wayward Cipriani’s exclusion.