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Habana says Springboks are on the rise

2015-10-08 07:17
Bryan Habana (Gallo)

London - South Africa's hat-trick try hero Bryan Habana warned the Springboks are getting stronger with every game as he celebrated a 64-0 Rugby World Cup thrashing of the United States on Wednesday.

Habana's second-half treble saw him equal Jonah Lomu's record of 15 World Cup tries as South Africa booked their quarter-final place.

The 2007 World Cup winner was on the field as the Springboks were beaten 34-32 by Japan in their opening Pool B match.

But he expressed pride at the way in which South Africa bounced back with wins over Samoa, Scotland and the United States, conceding just one try, to top Pool B.

"We took a bit of a tumble that first week against Japan, so the last three weeks have been important as to how we've responded," said Habana.

"We've raised the intensity and physicality, week on week."

The Springboks were only 14-0 up at half-time, thanks to centre Damien de Allende's maiden international try and a penalty try off a scrum.

But the second half saw South Africa score eight tries, including Habana's treble, as they added 50 more points.

"The first half we couldn't get going and made one or two errors, but the second-half performance was polished as I've been involved in with a Bok team," said Habana, a veteran of 114 Tests.

"As nice as it is to score tries, we can be really proud of our defensive effort," added Habana, who has helped French club Toulon win the last two European Cups.

"To allow only one try in three World Cup games was unbelievably exceptional."

South Africa now face a quarter-final with the losers of Saturday's Pool A clash between Australia and Wales and Habana said: "The hard work really starts now."

Habana could have beaten Lomu's record but, with 13 minutes left, botched what would have been his fourth try with a knock-on.

"Fluffing an opportunity to score a try at any time is never ideal," said Habana.

"But equalling Jonah Lomu's record is a truly humbling fact.

"The way he changed the game, the way he gave rugby back something that no-one ever thought was possible and the way he became a global superstar, the first real global superstar that the game as ever seen, is for me a massive privilege and I'm honoured to be able to call him a legend."

South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer added: "I am so proud of Bryan, as a player and human.

"He is a great ambassador for South Africa, has peaked at the right time and we need him."

South Africa captain Fourie du Preez, in the Springbok side when Habana made his Test debut in 2004, said the flyer's eye for the try-line had been apparent right from the start of his international career.

"Since Bryan's first appearance, he has been an unbelievable finisher. He is always in the right place at the right time," the scrumhalf said.

Wednesday's match was the first time a team had failed to score at this World Cup but US coach Mike Tolkin,who made 12 changes, blamed a schedule which sees his side having to play Japan in their final pool match on Sunday.

"I am very frustrated and we are certainly not alone," he said. "It is hard to take when you have to make a line-up based on a few days rest and I am sure Rugby World Cup will look at this after the tournament."

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