Meyer just happy to avoid Japan in quarter-finals
08 Oct 2015 - 8:29
London: South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer does not care which side the Springboks play in the World Cup quarter-finals, as long as it is not Japan.
Bryan Habana's hat-trick of tries helped his side to a 64-0 rout of the United States on Wednesday so that the 1995 and 2007 world champions can more confidently look forward to the last eight.
But their minds keep going back to their nightmare opening Pool B match when battling Japan delivered a last minute sucker punch to secure a stunning 34-32 win.
Wins since over Samoa, Scotland and now the United States -- in the most lopsided scoreline of this World Cup so far -- ensured South Africa topped their group. They will now face the losers of Saturday's Pool A clash between Australia and Wales in their October 17 quarter-final at Twickenham.
"It's going to be cracker of a game but it depends what happens on the day," said Meyer.
Asked which out of Australia and Wales he would rather avoid, Meyer -- in a rare show of humour -- told reporters: "The only team I would not want to face is Japan because it almost cost me my ... I won't go into that now."
The Springboks were only 14-0 up at half-time against the United States, courtesy of two converted tries, including centre Damian de Allende's first at Test level.
But at the other end of the scale, Habana's quickfire treble -- in a second half where the Springboks scored eight tries -- saw the 32-year-old wing equal Jonah Lomu's record 15 World Cup tries. He is also level with Australia great David Campese's 64 in Tests and fast catching the overall record of 69 held by Japan's Daisuke Ohata.
Meyer was pleased by the Springboks' defensive effort.
"We are really happy with our defence, we have only conceded one try in our last three games," he said.
Meyer, however, did pay tribute to Habana, adding: "Bryan has always played well for me. He is always the guy who comes through in the big games."
The United States were the first team to fail to score in a match at this World Cup.
But Eagles coach Mike Tolkin, who made 12 changes to his side ahead of their final pool match against Japan in Gloucester on Sunday, put the blame on the fixture schedule and not his hard-working players.
"In the first half I was so pleased with the way our guys played," he said. "They just poured their hearts out and I was really pleased with the effort.
"Once the Springboks got going it really wore our guys down quickly."
This World Cup has not seen a repeat of three-figure 'blow-outs' that have bean a feature of previous editions and Tolkin said: "At this World Cup you don't get any 80, 90, or 100-point scores.
"It would have been interesting to see what a full (USA) side would have done against the Springboks."
Tolkin felt the schedule meant he could not put that team out on Wednesday.
"I am very frustrated and we are certainly not alone," he said. "It is hard to take when you have to make a line-up based on a few days rest."
However, he said the Eagles were improving as a result of increasing international exposure, having now played three major nations -- New Zealand, Australia and South Africa -- this year.
"We are developing a belief the more we play the top teams."