Bryan Habana had several chances to break Jonah Lomu’s World Cup try scoring record, but unfortunately could not take any of them and will remain tied with the All Black legend on 15 Rugby World Cup tries.
Habana Can’t Make History as Springboks Claim Bronze
In a match that South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer referred to as “like kissing your sister”, the Springboks got off to the perfect start, as within the 1st five minutes Argentina were reduced to 14 men. Scrum half Tomas Cubelli was sent to the sin bin for trying to stop a quick penalty. The Springboks made their numerical advantage pay dividends almost immediately as J.P Pietersen crossed over in the corner for the games opening try.
Habana thought he had broken Lomu’s record soon after however the Television Match Official showed that Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino touched the ball down fractionally ahead of the Springbok winger. Pollard added a penalty to give South Africa a 10-0 lead before Cubelli returned to the pitch. Habana then had his second chance of the game sniping around the fringes he pounced on a loose ball but knocked on as he was tackled.
Argentina looked dangerous on the break and found small gaps in the midfield to make yards, however just as in their semi final against Australia they could not turn their attacking endeavour into points.
As South Africa pressed forward Habana was presented with another chance, but he was unable to collect Pollard’s high looping pass. Another penalty gave Pollard the opportunity to extend the Springboks lead, and the fly half showed the same consistency he has all tournament, stroking the ball over to make it 13-0. Habana had another chance at a try but as he chased his own kick he was adjudged to have impeded Nicolas Sanchez. As the clock ticked over to half time Pollard added a further penalty to make it 16-0 at the break.
Argentina started the second half looking for points and got them almost immediately through a Sanchez drop goal. This reduction in South Africa’s lead did not last long, as second row Eben Etzebeth crossed over for the Springbok’s second try. A further Pollard penalty gave South Africa a commanding lead, but the Pumas were undeterred, king for the corner from penalties and were unlucky as a move to the front of the line out just fell apart at the wrong moment.
Sanchez added three more points from a penalty, with the Argentinians continuing their attacking intent whenever they had the ball in hand. The crowd responded to their ambition with the chourus of “Argentina” ringing around the stadium in the closing stages.
A few short tempers led to a fracas and referee John Lacey had to remind both captains to keep their teams within the law. On 67 minutes Heyneke Meyer showed little sentimentality as he withdrew Habana and his chance at history was gone. The Toulon winger left the field to the applause of the 55,925 strong crowd.
As the clock ticked down Argentina pushed forward in search of a try and were rewarded to the delight of their fans. With time expired Juan Pablo Orlandi forced his way over the try line to give Argentina the try they deserved.
Bryan Habana may not have broken Jonah Lomu’s record, however he will go down as one of rugby’s greatest wingers. Equalling the record is a great achievement, however Habana may look back at the half chances he had tonight and think what might have been.