MATCH REPORT

LONDON - The Men's Eagles held South Africa to just two tries over the course of 40 minutes at Rugby World Cup 2015 Wednesday, but the Springboks' class and commitment to topping Pool B shone through for a 64-0 victory at The Stadium at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Featuring three players that started against Scotland 10 days ago in the U.S.'s last match, the Eagles' starting XV contained the dangerous, running rugby of South Africa for a full half before a Bryan Habana hat trick and a further five second-half tries saw out the result. Seven Americans, including Niku Kruger, Joseph Taufete'e, and Zack Test, made their Rugby World Cup debuts in the match, while Mate Moeakiola, Louis Stanfill, and Andrew Suniula officially stamped their third Rugby World Cup passports.

Andrew Suniula, lining up at center behind brother Shalom, made his first touch of the ball since a try against Canada at the end of August in the first minute of Wednesday's match. Going low into contact, the No. 12 drew a high tackle on a Springbok to give the Eagles the first opportunity at scoring points.

Folau Niua lined up the kick from just inside South Africa's half, a near-50-meter penalty goal attempt. The outside center kicked the ball straight, between the uprights, but it fell about a meter short and into the hands of a Springbok.

The Eagles failed to let the early letdown affect their game plan, which was to be physical on both sides of the ball. A knock by Olive Kilifi and a penalty against the Eagles in the ensuing scrum gave South Africa its own chance to add a few points to the scoreboard. Rather than kick for points after five minutes of play, however, the ball was sent to touch for a lineout.

The U.S. was able to clear the initial attack from the lineout, but conceded a penalty in a second lineout on the opposite side of the pitch. Scrum half Fourie du Preez's offload from the tap did not find hands, but Damian de Allende picked up the ball before an Eagle could get to it. The center fended Danny Barrett ahead of the try line before sliding under the posts for the match's first score.

The try, converted by fly half Handre Pollard, did not sink the Eagles' hopes for a win. Mike Tolkin's team got the ball back from the restart and held its own in an 11th-minute scrum, giving captain Samu Manoa another choice: kick for points or into touch.

Blaine Scully sent the ball into the stands and the Eagles won a penalty in the lineout to keep possession in South Africa's half. The U.S. went through a few phases until the 14th minute, when Chris Baumann was cut down low with ball in hand. Kruger, rather than the left-footed Niua, sent the ball spinning, but it hit a post and bounced towards midfield.

Not to be disappointed or hang their heads, the Eagles continued to search for a breakthrough. In the 17th minute, South Africa found its maul stuck and committed an infraction for the U.S. to clear. Manoa nearly ended Schalk Burger's World Cup a minute later after the Springbok slid into the Eagle, and the teams played for territory with a few kicks.

Play was stopped in the 21st minute after a monumental collision between Habana and Scully. The backs contested a South African high ball, though Scully was the clear winner, having come down with both hands on the ball and the body on top of the winger. Both players left the pitch to be checked by their respective medical personnel, and were able to return to the match.

South Africa got the better of the Eagles when it came to scrum time for the majority of the match, but not in the 22nd minute. A penalty against the Springboks allowed the Eagles to clear, though Brett Thompson was forced to clean up on defense after Matt Trouville lost the ball forward in contact.

Thompson saved a try with a tackle on Pollard, who had broken the gain line for a lengthy run, and Kruger and Test combined to hold up Jesse Kriel on the try line at the end of the attack. Barrett held off de Allende in the duo's next meeting outside of the try zone before the referee awarded a penalty to South Africa.

Manoa conversed with his pack after referee Pascal Gauzere blew a five-meter scrum dead, but the talk was not enough as Gauzere awarded a penalty try in the 27th minute. Pollard converted for a 14-0 score line.

The Eagles stopped the Springboks from scoring throughout the final 10 minutes of the opening frame, keeping up with the kicking game as well as covering the danger areas around the park. Scully nearly capped off the half with a bang after intercepting a pass deep inside his own half. The full back ran to midfield, where the Eagles drew a penalty for an attacking lineout. The Springboks kicked to touch after a penalty against the Eagles 15 meters from the try line to end the half.

Neither team made substitutions at the break, content with the battles being waged between the starting XVs. Habana, three tries from tying Jonah Lomu's record for most at Rugby World Cups, did not have Taku Ngwenya to contend with Wednesday, and had a major hand in turning the second half into the Springbok show.

An overthrown Springbok lineout in the first minute after the restart momentarily put South Africa's attack on hold, but the team in green and gold found possession within seconds. Du Preez ran towards the touch line and teammate Habana before sending a grubber kick into space behind the Eagles' defense. The winger ran onto the ball easily and dove for his first try.

Hooker Bismarck du Plessis extended the lead to 26-0 with a 47th-minute try and Francois Louw followed less than 10 minutes later to put South Africa ahead, 33-0. The Eagles struggled to get sufficient attacking meters in the second half and the Springboks moved the ball around with precision to create their own opportunities. A bit of continuity on defense may have been lost once the substitutes started entering the match, and South Africa capitalized.

De Allende found a large gap in the defense after receiving a switch pass inside midfield in the 59th minute, and held off the U.S. defenders until Habana ran onto the offload in front of the posts for a 40-0 score.

Several Eagles attempted to hold up a Springbok 10 meters from the try line in the 61st minute, but Gauzere called the encounter a maul. As South Africa began to send forwards into the tussle, the U.S. ripped the ball loose, but into the hands of Habana for the hat trick and 47-0 deficit.

Habana nearly scored his fourth and broke Lomu's record in the 67th minute when he chased a grubber in-goal, but he knocked it forward. South Africa was able to turn the attack into points, however, as Gauzere called play back towards the touch line for an infraction and Louw dotted down for his second inside the lineout maul.

Kriel extended the lead to 57-0 with five minutes to play, and the Eagles played well into extra time in search of anything to break the goose egg on the scoreboard. A 25-meter run from Taufete'e helped the U.S. reach scoring territory on South Africa's side of the pitch, but the ball was kicked and chased down the pitch by Lwazi Mvovo for the final try.

"I am proud of the way our guys showed up to play," Tolkin said following Wednesday's match. "It was a group with not a lot of game time playing the top Springbok side. They left everything on the field and went in at half just 14 down.

"All of them seized their opportunities and did not leave anything in the tank. Some of the young players playing in their first or second tests were especially impressive with composure in a very difficult environment. I understand how the big score line fogs that, but they were consummate professionals and competitors."

The match was South Africa's fourth of pool play, which began with a defeat to Japan. With wins against Samoa, Scotland, and the U.S., the Springboks earn the top seed from Pool B for the quarterfinals. The Eagles will finish pool play Sunday against Japan, an opponent Tolkin's side defeated three months ago in the World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup competition.

Men's Eagles | v. South Africa

  1. Olive Kilifi (Moeakiola @ 59')
  2. Phil Thiel (Taufete'e @ 72')
  3. Chris Baumann
  4. Louis Stanfill
  5. Matt Trouville (Fenoglio @ 70')
  6. Danny Barrett (McFarland @ 58')
  7. John Quill
  8. Samu Manoa (C) (Dolan @ 48')
  9. Niku Kruger
  10. Shalom Suniula
  11. Zack Test
  12. Andrew Suniula
  13. Folau Niua
  14. Brett Thompson
  15. Blaine Scully (Wyles @ 70')
  16. Men's Eagles | Reserves

  17. Joseph Taufete'e
  18. Zach Fenoglio
  19. Matekitonga Moeakiola
  20. Titi Lamositele
  21. Cameron Dolan
  22. Al McFarland
  23. Mike Petri
  24. Chris Wyles

South Africa | v. USA

  1. Tendai Mtawarira (Nyakane @ 56')
  2. Bismarck du Plessis (Brits @ 56')
  3. Frans Malherbe (Oosthuizen @ 60')
  4. Eben Etzebeth
  5. Lodewyk de Jager (du Toit @ 63')
  6. Francois Louw
  7. Schalk Burger (Alberts @ 48')
  8. Duane Vermeulen
  9. Fourie du Preez (C) (Paige @ 63')
  10. Handre Pollard (Steyn @ 56')
  11. Lwazi Mvovo
  12. Damian de Allende (Serfontein @ 60')
  13. Jesse Kriel
  14. Bryan Habana
  15. Willie le Roux
  16. South Africa | Reserves

  17. Schalk Brits
  18. Trevor Nyakane
  19. Coenie Oosthuizen
  20. Pieter-Steph du Toit
  21. Willem Alberts
  22. Rudy Paige
  23. Morne Steyn
  24. Jan Serfontein

Men's Eagles | 0

  • Tries: N/A
  • Conversions: N/A

South Africa | 64

  • Tries:
    • de Allende, Penalty Try
    • Habana (3)
    • de Plessis
    • Louw (2)
    • Kriel
    • Mvovo
  • Conversions:
    • Pollard (4)
    • Steyn (3)

Men's Eagles | Rugby World Cup 2015

  • v. Samoa - L 25-16
  • v. Scotland - L 39-16
  • v. South Africa - L 64-0
  • v. Japan - Sunday, Oct. 11 - 3 p.m. ET