South Africa delivered a statement of intent as they thrashed Canada 66-7 to book their place in the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals in style.
Rassie Erasmus insisted there would be no drop off in quality for his Springboks side despite a raft of changes, and his expectations were met as South Africa ran riot in Kobe.
An 11-minute hat-trick by Cobus Reinach - the earliest in World Cup history - was the highlight of a sensational first-half performance, with the Springboks' evening made easier when Canada had Josh Larsen sent off as South Africa held a 47-0 lead at half-time.
Matt Heaton grabbed a consolation as Canada managed to stem the green-and-gold tide despite their numerical disadvantage in the second half, though South Africa still capped off a successful Pool B campaign.
3 - Cobus Reinach's hat-trick is the earliest a hat-trick has been scored in a @rugbyworldcup match, beating the record held by Chris Latham who crossed for a third try in the 25th minute against Namibia in 2003. Rapid.#RWC2019 #RSAvCAN pic.twitter.com/WUqEmK7mkg
— OptaJonny (@OptaJonny) October 8, 2019
South Africa started as they meant to go on, RG Snyman's breakthrough paving the way for Damian De Allende, one of two players to retain their place for the Springboks, to barge over in the third minute, with Elton Jantjies adding the extras.
S'Busiso Nkosi's wicked turn of pace did for Canada's defence, before Reinach displayed brilliant skill to latch onto his own kick and race over for a third Springboks try with less than 10 minutes played.
Reinach dived in for a second moments later, following another Snyman break, and he became the fifth South African player to score a World Cup hat-trick when he burst in from the right in the 20th minute.
South Africa's scrum-half turned provider for his team's sixth try, powering away to find De Allende, whose quick pass was pounced on by Warrick Gelant.
Canada's misery was compounded before the break - substitute Larsen seeing red for an illegal shoulder charge just short of South Africa's line - before Frans Steyn, a World Cup winner in 2007, went over following an interception on the stroke of half-time.
Against the odds, Canada got on the scoresheet six minutes after the restart, Heaton bundling over to restore some pride.
Veteran Schalk Brits nosed South Africa above 50, though his match - potentially his final Springboks appearance - was ended through injury soon after.
Damian Willemse strolled in for his first international try with 14 minutes to go and Frans Malherbe rounded off a supreme display as South Africa moved top of Pool B.
Reinach runs riot
The scrum-half surely did enough to secure his place in Erasmus' side for the quarter-finals with an exhilarating individual display.
His first try was the pick of the bunch as, having picked a gap in Canada's ragged line, the 29-year-old lobbed a perfect kick over the last defender before taking it on the bounce and cruising over next to the posts.
Erasmus' back-up brigade stake their claim
South Africa's coach had no concerns about trusting his fringe players for Tuesday's encounter and his faith was rewarded in emphatic fashion.
While the Springboks will be presented with a much tougher opponent in the last eight, Erasmus will have plenty of food for thought when it comes to his team selection.
Think I’d prefer to play @Springboks 1st’s rather than 2nd’s TBH... Unreal 30 mins of (at times touch) rugby so far! Reinach hat trick inside 20 mins... 😳— Brian O'Driscoll (@BrianODriscoll) October 8, 2019
Key Opta Facts
- South Africa’s 59-point win was their fourth biggest at the Rugby World Cup while their points tally of 66 was their third highest in a game at the tournament and highest since scoring 87 against Namibia in 2011.
- Reinach rounded off his hat-trick 10 minutes and 25 seconds after scoring his first try of the match, only Australia’s Adam Ashley-Cooper has taken less time between the first and third tries of a hat-trick at the Rugby World Cup (nine minutes and 16 seconds versus the United States in 2011).
- Larsen was sent off against South Africa, it was Canada’s fourth red card in Rugby World Cup history, more than any other side.
- South Africa have won 47 of 47 lineouts so far at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, including eight out of eight against Canada, the only side yet to misplace a lineout throw at this edition of the tournament.
South Africa's victory will not be enough to see them top Pool B if, as expected, New Zealand beat Italy on Saturday, though it is still up in the air as to whether it will be Japan, Ireland or Scotland who await the Springboks in the last eight.
Canada end their campaign against Namibia on Sunday.