Wellington - South Africa were branded a better side than when they won the last Rugby World Cup in 2007 after they mixed steely defence and ruthless attack to demolish Fiji in their second pool game.
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The Springboks withstood 20 minutes of fervent Fijian pressure and then effortlessly turned the game on its head by running in five unanswered tries to crush any hopes a highly rated Fiji side had of being partners in an equal contest.
"It was a fantastic Springbok side. In my opinion it's a better side than four years ago," Fiji captain Deacon Manu said.
"A lot of them who played have already won the World Cup.
"It was a difficult game and South Africa showed why they are world champions. They played with intensity for 80 minutes and it was a difficult old time for us."
Manu added: "They're going to be one of the teams to beat, if not the team to beat this year.
"South Africa were there and really played, as opposed to last week (when they scraped a 17-16 win over Wales). They were using their tactics accordingly. They were firing on all cylinders today(Saturday) and were hard to combat."
Manu was also left lamenting his players' bringing "too much emotion" onto the pitch against the proven hardness and experience of the Springboks.
"We have to get a better mix of emotion with technical skills," he said.
Fiji coach Samu Domoni, the former forward who played for both his country and the Wallabies (once), was left ruing his side's incapacity to break down a stubborn Springbok defence that gave nothing away in a brutal opening 20 minutes.
"I'm certainly disappointed in the outcome. We asked a lot of questions but we just didn't capitalise," Domoni said.
Despite dominating possession for the opening quarter, Domoni said, advantage swung back to the Boks who went on to put a stranglehold on the match.
"Those tries that went the other way certainly put a dent in our side."
Manu said that the focus would now immediately switch to his side's next pool match, against Samoa on September 25.
"We have to make sure we learn from this defeat," the New Zealand-born Scarlets prop said. "There's some hard lessons to be learned.
"A week is a long, long time in rugby. We've got to make sure we put this loss behind us."
Domoni added: "We have all done our research and now we're looking forward to a physical encounter next week."