South Africa Routs Fiji 49-3 at Rugby World Cup; Argentina Beats Romania

Defending champion South Africa beat Fiji 49-3 to move atop its group at the Rugby World Cup, while Argentina got its first win at the tournament in New Zealand by beating Romania 43-8.

The Springboks, who began their defense of the Webb Ellis Cup by beating Wales 17-16 last week, scored six unanswered tries through six different players in Wellington. Morne Steyn kicked five conversions and two penalties, while Frans Steyn opened the scoring with a 56-meter penalty.

“We had some work to do, we were a bit rusty in the first game,” South Africa captain John Smit said in a televised interview. “It was just what we needed. For me, more than anything, I’m happy to have kept a team like Fiji off the try line. That’s a pretty good task.”

The victory lifted South Africa atop Pool D with nine points through two matches ahead of Fiji and Samoa, which plays Wales tomorrow. The top two teams from each of the four groups advance to the quarterfinals.

In today’s last match, two-time champion Australia meets Ireland in a Pool C clash at Auckland’s Eden Park. The Wallabies and Springboks would avoid a quarterfinal matchup by finishing atop their groups.

Springboks fly-half Morne Steyn finished with 21 points in Wellington after also adding a 62nd-minute try, which secured the bonus point for scoring at least four tries in a match.

Try Scorers

The Springboks also scored second-half tries through inside center Frans Steyn, prop Tendai Mtawarira and lock Danie Rossouw. South Africa had led 21-3 at halftime after tries by prop Gurthro Steenkamp and outside center Jaque Fourie.

Fiji, which lost 37-20 when the teams met in the 2007 quarterfinals, got its only points from a Seremai Bai penalty.

“It was a disappointing result,” Fiji captain Deacon Manu said. “It was tough game out there for us and the Springboks probably showed why they’re world champions.”

Argentina, which finished third at the 2007 World Cup, rebounded from last week’s 13-9 loss to England by scoring six tries through six different players to secure a bonus-point win over Romania.

“We were desperate to get a win, that was the only option for us,” Argentina captain Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe said in a televised interview. “The performance was a little bit patchy sometimes but we are very happy.”

Santiago Fernandez, Juan Manuel Leguizamon, Juan Figallo and Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino all touched down for the Pumas in the first half at Rugby Park, Invercargill, before Romania responded with a try by Ionel Cazan in 32nd minute.

Counterattack

Replacement winger Juan Jose Imhoff sprinted clear for Argentina’s fifth try with 16 minutes to go and Genaro Fessia finished off a 72nd-minute counterattack to complete the try scoring. Inside center Martin Rodriguez kicked five conversions and a penalty for Argentina’s other 13 points.

The Pumas moved into second place in Pool B with six points, three behind leader Scotland and two ahead of England, which plays Georgia tomorrow.

U.S. captain Todd Clever escaped a ban after admitting to a dangerous-tackle charge following his team’s 13-6 win over Russia two days ago. The International Rugby Board’s independent judicial officer, Jeff Blackett, determined at a hearing in Auckland that the offense was “at the lower end of the scale of seriousness” and no further sanction was necessary.

Today’s ruling means Clever, a 28-year-old flanker, is available for the Eagles’ next match against Australia on Sept. 23 in Wellington.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dan Baynes in Sydney at dbaynes@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net

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