PA Wire/PA Images Habana runs in the first of his two tries.
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Habana matches Lomu's try-scoring record as Springboks hammer USA
Habana’s hattrick moved him level with Jonah Lomu in the record books.

South Africa 64


BRYAN HABANA MATCHED Jonah Lomu’s 15-try Rugby World Cup record, as the Springboks inflicted the biggest defeat of the tournament on a sorry looking USA side.

Three second half tries brought Habana level with the New Zealand legend, but he could have taken the record outright, dropping a simple grubber kick as he attempted to cross the tryline for the fourth time today.

It was a mistake from Duane Vermeulen that somehow created the opening try for the ‘Boks. After the number eight spilled, Jannie Du Plessis swiped the ball from danger in the direction of Damian de Allende, who darted straight through the gaping hope in the Americans’ defence.

After missing a long-range penalty prior to the try, USA’s Niku Kruger had a much easier chance to get his side off the mark on 15 minutes, but he struck the post as the Americans were kept to nil.

Jesse Kriel then came agonisingly close to extending the Springbok lead, but his barging run was stopped within centimetres of the line by a desperate USA defence.

Britain Rugby WCup South Africa USA AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

But it was only a short reprieve, with South Africa powering through the American scrum, and a penalty try awarded.

South Africa were well on top, but struggled to break USA down, with the sides going into the break at 14-0.

But a minute into the second half Bryan Habana moved further up the World Cup try-scoring list, latching onto a Fourie du Preez grubber to cross for the 13th time in his third tournament.

The TMO was needed to confirm he was onside, and after it proved too difficult to call definitively, the benefit was given to the winger.

Try number four soon followed; Duane Vermeulen boshed his way to the try-line from the base of the scrum, before presenting to Bismarck du Plessis, who forced his way over to claim the bonus point.

Francois Louw then crossed for his second try of the tournament, touching down from the back of a rolling maul, Handre Pollard slotting his fourth conversion from five.

Habana could have moved within one of Jonah Lomu’s 15-try record soon after, but Jesse Kriel’s pass fell just short as the winger came pounding in on the hard line.

Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup 2015 - Pool B - South Africa v USA - Olympic Stadium PA Wire / PA Images PA Wire / PA Images / PA Images

But within minutes not only had he moved within one of the record, but he’s tied it.

First he ran in unopposed after de Allende fed him on the left, before scoring again to tie the record after pouncing on a ball spilling from a maul.

After Habana butchered the simplest of chances to make the record his own, Louw crossed for his second of the game to make it 52-0.

The final 10 minutes were played with the sole objective of getting Habana his record, with the winger being sought almost every time the Springboks gained possession. Jesse Kriel didn’t get that memo though, crossing to get in on the rout, before Lwazi Mvovo broke clear to get a try of his own in the final seconds of the game.

But all the headlines will be about Habana, matching the record in style before somehow missing the chance to make it his own.

Practically a side-note to the Habana show, is that the Springboks finish Pool B as winners, after their disastrous start against Japan.

USA meanwhile suffer the added indignity of becoming the first side to be held scoreless at this year’s competition.

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South Africa scorers:
Tries: Bryan Habana (3), Francois Louw (2), Damian de Allende, Penalty Try, Bismarck du Plessis, Jesse Kriel, Lwazi Mvovo (1 each)
Conversions: Handre Pollard (4), Morne Steyn (3)

SOUTH AFRICA: Willie le Roux; Bryan Habana, Jesse Kriel, Damian de Allende, Lwazi Mvovo; Handre Pollard, Fourie du Preez (captain); Tendai Mtawarira, Bismarck du Plessis, Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Lood de Jager, Francois Louw, Schalk Burger, Duane Vermeulen.

Replacements: Schalk Brits, Trevor Nyakane, Coenie Oosthuizen, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Willem Alberts, Rudy Paige, Morne Steyn, Jan Serfontein.

USA: Blaine Scully; Brett Thompson, Folau Niua, Andrew Suniula, Zach Test; Shalom Suniula, Niku Kruger; Oli Kilifi, Phil Thiel, Chris Baumann, Louis Stanfill, Matthew Trouville, Danny Barrett, John Quill, Samu Manoa (captain).

Replacements: Joe Taufetee, Zach Fenoglio, Mate Moeakiola, Titi Lamositele, Cam Dolan, Al McFarland, Mike Petri, Chris Wyles.

Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France).

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