The two-time World Champions put the Japanese debacle behind them with a resounding win over Samoa, with JP Pietersen scoring a hat-trick.
South Africa ran away with this game in the second 40, after a closely contested first half. Samoa were extremely physical throughout as expected, but the Springboks were too hot to handle in attack and ran in six unanswered tries.
They could conceivably have scored even more but for being denied by fine margins, whilst Samoa were unfortunate not to be allowed a try of their own.
The Springboks have now jumped to the top of Pool B with seven points, and Heyneke Meyer’s men answered a lot of questions with a resounding victory.
Experienced wing JP Pietersen scored a hat-trick with Schalk Burger, Schalk Brits and Bryan Habana all claiming one apiece.
South Africa settled any pre-match nerves with three points on the board in the first minute of play. Handre Pollard was selected in place of Pat Lambie at Number 10, and he had no problem slotting it home from close range.
The lead didn’t last long however, as Samoa’s physicality forced them upfield to allow an already bloodied Mike Stanley to level the score from the tee on nine minutes.
A big heave from the Samoan scrum earned a penalty less than a metre inside South Africa’s half. Stanley then guided a fantastic long range effort between the posts to give the Pacific nation the lead.
The Springboks then received a gift as Stanley failed to get enough height on his pass, and veteran wing JP Pietersen gratefully intercepted and galloped unopposed for his sixth World Cup try.
Pollard was unable to make it a seven point score, but he nailed another penalty minutes later to make it 11-8 to the two time Champions.
Willie le Roux attempted to find Pietersen again on the wing put there was too much on his chip, so referee Wayne Barnes called play back for a penalty right in front of the posts, which Pollard duly accepted.
South Africa were denied what looked to be a fantastically worked second try, but Jean de Villiers’ diving finish was in vein as Willie le Roux’s foot was in touch from the offload.
Things looked to be boiling over around the 30 minute mark but Barnes laid down the law to avoid a potential fracas.
With the interval approaching, Pollard scored his fourth penalty to make it 17-6 at the break.
Samoa earned themselves a penalty and attempted to play their way out of their own half for one last attack. Alesana Tuilagi went for a low chip and go and was caught by the arm of JP Pietersen.
The wing avoided a yellow card, and Stanley attempted an audacious shot at goal from midway in his own half, but it did not have the legs.
After the restart, South Africa once again thought that they had scored a beautifully constructed second try, but they were adjudged to have knocked on following a brilliant succession of offloads and a teasing chip over the back line.
Eventually it came, with Pietersen touching down for his brace after quick hands down the line left the wing unmarked. Pollard converted the try to give Bokke a 14 point lead.
Stanley then missed a further two penalty attempts, which, had he scored them would have doubled their score, and halved the arrears.
South African pressure continued to build and after forcing errors from Samoa, Schalk Burger powered over for their third try.
Just after the hour mark, and it was Samoa to be denied by the TMO. A forward movement ruled out an electric move that even had the South African fans on their feet.
Whilst Tusi Pisi was denied that try, the introduction of brother George meant that along with sibling Ken, the trio marked the first time that three brothers have graced a Rugby World Cup match at the same time.
Substitute Schalk Brits finally secured the bonus try for South Africa just three minutes after his introduction. The veteran hooker crashed over off the back of a strong driving maul across the Samoan line to score his first Rugby World Cup try on his debut in the competition.
Pietersen then completed his hat-trick with two minutes to go with a finish almost identical to his second.
There was an uninvited guest as the clock went dead, but Barnes’ brilliant officiating dealt with it well, and South Africa finished the game with Bryan Habana’s eighth try against Samoa, and 11th in the World Cup.
What comes next:
South Africa have now gone from disarray to total control of Pool B. Bokke remained favourites to win the group despite the shock defeat to Japan, and with a six try haul, they look to have chalked that result up as a minor blip. Next up is a Pool decider against Scotland, and the home nation will be fearful after a spectacular display from the Rainbow nation.
Samoa remain in contention to make the quarter finals, but they face a huge match against Japan next weekend. That one is bound to be another cracker, but the Pacific nation will be confident of victory and must quickly dust themselves down from this defeat.
Springbok captain Jean de Villiers was pleased by his team’s response. “Last week’s result still hurts and this is the beginning to get us back on track. All credit to Samoa they always stick with you but I’m proud of our boys here we managed to get the job done”
Man of the match: Handre Pollard
Just as Heyneke Meyer predicted, Pat Lambie’s replacement at fly-half won the game for his nation. With 19 points from the boot, Pollard was also instrumental with his passes from hand and offloads, and we was integral in the build up to several of South Africa’s tries.
South Africa: 15. Willie le Roux; 14. JP Pietersen, 13. Jean de Villiers (Pat Lambie 71), 12. Damian de Allende (Jesse Kriel 48) (Jean de Villiers 77), 11. Bryan Habana; 10. Handre Pollard, 9. Fourie du Preez (Ruan Pienaar 73); 8. Duane Vermeulen, 7. Schalk Burger (Siya Kolisi 67) 6. Francois Louw 5. Victor Matfield (Lood de Jager 54), 4. Eben Etzebeth, 3. Jannie du Plessis (Frans Malherbe 53), 2. Adriaan Strauss (Schalk Brits 67), 1. Tendai Mtawarira (Trevor Nyakane 61).
Replacements 17. Trevor Nyakane, 18. Frans Malherbe,
Samoa: 15. Tim Nanai-Williams; 14. Ken Pisi, 13. Paul Perez, 12. Rey Lee-Lo, 11. Alesana Tuilagi (George Pisi 65); 10. Mike Stanley (Tusi Pisi 53), 9. Kahn Fotuali’I (Vavao Afemai 77); 8. Ofisa Treviranus (Vavae Tuilagi 62), 7. Jack Lam, 6. TJ Ioane, 5. Iosefa Tekori (Faifili Levave 46), 4. Teofilo Paulo, 3. Census Johnston (Anthony Perenise 51) , 2. Motu Matu’u (Ole Avei 51), 1. Sakaria Taulafo (Viliamu Afatia 63)