Rugby Union

South Africa coach proud of record-matching Bryan Habana

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South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer hopes Bryan Habana is hitting form at the right time after the winger's record-equalling feat against the United States.

The 32-year-old scored a 19-minute hat-trick as the Springboks crushed an inexperienced USA side to run out 64-0 victors at the Olympic Stadium - a result that means they will top Pool B and face a quarter-final against Australia or Wales.

The individual feat saw Habana draw level with former All Black Jonah Lomu's record of 15 World Cup tries - with Damian de Allende, Bismarck Du Plessis, Jesse Kriel, Lwazi Mvovo and two from Francois Louw completing the rout.

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When asked about Habana's achievement, Meyer said: "First and foremost it sounds corny but the one thing we are getting right now is that it is better for the team than the individual.

"He is always the guy who comes through in big games, he didn't have a good off-season and couldn't get going. Now he is getting momentum as I didn't think in the last three or four weeks he has been at his best.

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"I didn't even know he had got the record, I was more focused on the game. But I'm so proud of him and it is great, he is a great ambassador for South Africa and I hope he has peaked at the right time. He will need to score more tries as well but I'm pleased for him.

"He is looking forward and getting the ball in his hand - he has more experience and has been great for the past two games."

With a mouthwatering clash against Australia or Wales to come at Twickenham, Meyer insists South Africa are ready, and their opening defeat to Japan - one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history - is now consigned to the past.

"I think as a coach you think you are ready," Meyer added.

"I know we are better prepared and we will face one of the best two in the world. We have to be more clinical and use every opportunity, on their day any team can beat any team. I believe we have been under so much pressure but luckily we have a little break.

"The great thing after we played Japan was we changed the game-plan. It will be a cracker of a game and it doesn't matter what happened before. We are looking forward to it, the confidence is there but we have to stay humble as we haven't achieved it yet.

"It is great that people are writing us off but I know what this team can do, slowly but surely we have been improving."

USA coach Mike Tolkin was proud of his much-changed side for challenging the two-time world champions for much of the first half - even if they dropped off the pace after the break.

"First half, I was so pleased with the way our guys played," he said.

"There were a lot of guys in there who hadn't had a lot of game time and they poured their hearts out. They put a load of pressure onto South Africa. I'm really proud of the effort.

"Second half, we got ourselves under some immediate pressure and once they got going they wore our guys down quickly and scored at will.

"Whether they (the opponents) are tier one or tier two, you have to be competitive. We couldn't do that in the second half so it fell apart.

"At this World Cup you don't see any 80 or 90 scores, we had a side out that doesn't have much World Cup experience yet. In four years' time it will be really interesting to see what happens."

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Topics:
South Africa Rugby
Rugby Union
IRB Rugby World Cup

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