Springboks restore pride

By Julian Linden

By Julian Linden

MARSEILLE - South Africa helped restore some lost pride for the southern hemisphere with a hard-fought 37-20 win over Fiji yesterday in the World Cup quarterfinals yesterday.

The Springboks briefly looked to be in danger of joining their Tri-Nations partners New Zealand and Australia as shock early casualties when Fiji launched a second-half comeback but held their composure to book their place in the semifinals against Argentina or Scotland.

Fiji, who made the quarterfinals for the first time in 20 years with a stunning win over Wales in the pool stage, threatened to produce another boilover when they scored two tries in three minutes to draw level midway through the second half only to run out of steam in the last 17 minutes.

South Africa regained the lead through a penalty from fullback Percy Montgomery then sealed their victory with late tries from bustling openside flanker Juan Smith and flyhalf Butch James.

The Springboks had looked in control of the match when they led 20-6 after an hour and the Fijians were reduced to 14 men after the sin-binning of inside centre Seru Rabeni, before the game suddenly burst into life.

Vilimoni Delasau scored in the left corner after kicking over the defence line and winning the race to the ball. Then his fellow winger Sireli Bobo followed up a break from scrumhalf Mosese Rauluni to score a second try three minutes later.

The Pacific islanders almost had a third try when Ifereimi Rawaqa crashed over in the left corner only to put his foot into touch after a smothering tackle from JP Pietersen.

Pietersen had scored a try himself earlier in the second half to stretch South Africa's lead to 14 points after they went o the break 13-3 ahead following tries from outside centre Jaque Fourie and captain John Smit.

Inside centre Francois Steyn landed a booming penalty goal from just inside his own half to open the scoring after just eight minutes while Seremaia Bai, who moved from centre to flyhalf to replace the injured Nicky Little, kicked two penalties and two conversions.

South Africa are chasing their second World Cup. - Reuters