BLOW BY BLOW | Boks beat tough Tonga in Marseille

01 October 2023 - 18:58
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The Springboks' Canan Moodie during their Rugby World Cup pool B match against Tonga at Stade Velodrome on Sunday night.
The Springboks' Canan Moodie during their Rugby World Cup pool B match against Tonga at Stade Velodrome on Sunday night.
Image: Steve Haag/Gallo Images

82min **** --- Full Time --- Boks 49 Tonga 18 --- ****

That's time. Tough game from the brave islanders. Boks get the win and the bonus point. Perhaps from a points difference point of view they might have wanted more from the match-up. Tonga looked like they were tiring, but got a second wind. South Africa will be confident Ireland will beat Scotland. If the Scots pull off an upset, there could be calculators involved. The Boks will again feel they have things to fix.

In the end the Boks get a hard-earned, bruising win.

Pollard's introduction made a big difference - 4 from 4 in place-kicking, and a general at flyhalf. His display will give the Boks some confidence going forward. 

82min - Conversion! - Boks 49 Tonga 18

Libbok easy one for 3 from 3.

81min - Try! - Boks 47 Tonga 18

Kwagga Smith carry for another Boks try between the poles!


Tonga back on the front foot, Boks defending again. Relief from a penalty to SA. Libbok kicks to Tonga 10m line.


Pellegrini misses conversion attempt.

73min - Try! - Boks 42 Tonga 18

Sub Patrick Pellegrini finishes Tonga's breakaway try down the right!


Tonga offensive scrum on the left - Boks huge scrum get the penalty.


Below, this was the superb Boks try finished by Van Staden:

64min - Conversion! - Boks 42 Tonga 13

Libbok making the selectors' life hard again, perhaps - 2 from 2 - this time a tough angle on the right.

63min - Try! - Boks 40 Tonga 13

Definitely Tonga tiring - Kwagga Smith punches through the middle, Esterhuizen carries, out wide to Moodie to make more ground, Van Staden goes over!


More SUBS updates: Kitshoff is back on for Nche, Van Staden has replaced Kolisi and Mostert is on for Orie


From a penalty Havili kicks Tonga to right corner.

59min - Conversion! Boks 35 Tonga 13

Libbok answers Pollard's earlier clinical kicking with a 1 from 1 - through the middle from near the touchline on the left.

57min - Try! - Boks 33 Tonga 13

Willie Le Roux over, bouncing off a challenge, in the left corner!


Below, here are this half's tries so far:


Havili misses conversion attempt from the right.

53min - Try! - Boks 28 Tonga 13

Boks defending tryline again, commiting numbers in defence, Tong able to swing via Havili pass to Inisi to go through alone on the right.


SUBS update: Apart from Libbok on for Pollard, earlier Kitshoff and Nyakane were on for Nche and Koch in the Boks' front row.

50min - Conversion! - Boks 28 Tonga 8

Pollard 4 from 4 ... through the poles from the right again. Then he's substituted by Libbok.

49min - Try! - Boks 26 Tonga 8

Boks work the ball from the 22, run after run, to the tryline on the right, Kriel goes over! The bonus-point try.


Reinach concedes penalty to relieve pressure on Tonga.


Esterhuizen, again, a barreling run down the middle. He's had so many strong carries. Boks make ground. Boks inside Tonga 22. Tonga's hits are big, Boks muscle through them.

... But Tonga might be tiring from the effort of stopping this Boks power.


We're off  .... Pollard kicks off (the blogger runs for a pee, is back, and seems nothing happened in the meantime).


Below, some halftime tweets ... Xs ... ag, whatever Elon ... :


Here (below) are the halftime highlights (courtesy SABC Sport's Twitter - not calling it X - feed) ... no break for your overworked blog host even at the break:

40min **** --- Half Time --- Boks 21 Tonga 8 --- ****

The Boks have the lead from three tries to one at the break in Marseille. Tonga tough in the tackle, tough in the physical contests.


Havili misses conversion attempt.

38min - Try! - Boks 21 Tonga 8

Tonga work up to with metres of the line - the huge man, No 3 Ben Tameifuna, over for the islanders!

33min - Conversion! - Boks 21 Tonga 3

Pollard impeccable again from tight angle on the right.

32min - Try! - Boks 19 Tonga 3

Monstrous scrum from Boks, push Tonga over the line, Deon Fourie dots.


TMO rules against yellow card for Tonga scrumhalf Augustine Pulu for head contact with Mapimpi, who leaves field for injury attention as Kriel comes on. Pollard kicks penalty to corner.


Centre Ahki slices clearing kick - Boks have lineout 15m out - get penalty advantage.


Boks push to within 5m of tryline, give away scrum.


Boks work a scrum in good position 10m inside Tonga half on the right, run the ball, make ground, build territory and start to muscle an advantage after that nervy start.

21min - Conversion! - Boks 14 Tonga 3

Easy one for Pollard.

20min - Try! - Boks 12 Tonga 3

Boks swing, get a fortunate bounce off a shoulder, Moodie streaks through the middle to dot under poles!


Boks win line-out and first opportunity to carry. They make ground.


Tonga run it from the line-out near the Boks' 22. Tonga run it from a second line-out, spread to the right, where wing Fine Inisi breaks and tackled. 


Boks win it back, Reinach cleatring kick to relieve 10mins pressure at their line.


Boks having to defend on their tryline. Penalty advantage to Tonga. Willie le Roux fumbles crosskick over dead ball. Tonga kick for linout.


Penalty to Tonga - they opt for the corner from kickable at poles position. Lineout on the left 10m out. The islanders win it and pile on the pressure! Penalty (against Nche) to Tonga front of poles - they take the scrum.

5min - Conversion! - Boks 7 Tonga 3

Shew - Pollard immediate assured kick from near right touchline, in inside right post.

4min - Try! - Boks 5 Tonga 3

Boks his straight back  Reinach (quick tap from penalty, runs through to the right unchallenged) try!

3min - Penalty! - Boks 0 Tonga 3 

Flyhalf William Havili puts the penalty through the polls. Tonga first blood. 


And we're off. Tonga kick off. Early penalty conceded by Esterhuizen.


Tonga's version of the Haka is the Sipi Tau. "The Sipi Tau is a ferocious war dance performed by the Tonga national rugby union team, a.k.a. the Ikale Tahi, or Sea Eagles, by way of laying down a challenge to the opposition. The current version of the Sipi Tau was written at the best of the erstwhile King of Tonga, Tāufaʻāhau Tupou IV, to commemorate a successful, albeit short, tour of New Zealand in 1994. The dance, which originally took over two minutes to perform, is accompanied by an emotional, highly charged war cry, which warns, ominously, ‘Today, destroyer of souls, I am everywhere.’"


Siya Kolisi, the man, the mountain, the legend, of course playing his 50th Test as captain ... SuperSport TV's analysts on that below:


The teams are on the field, anthems playing - below, how the teams line up:


Scenes from in and around Stade Vélodrome, below:


In the words of the legendary Alvin Reeves, sports editor of The Herald, Arena's Gqeberha paper, "May the Force" be with the "young" (hehe) blogger.

And the country's Force will be with and behind the Boks again tonight ... they need tries and points for points difference, and a bonus point, given the tightness now in pool C after Scotland's rout of Romania last night, as detailed by Liam Del Carme here.   

The legendary Alvin Reeves.
The legendary Alvin Reeves.
Image: Alvin Reeves/Facebook


... and now, we wait ...


Some match details are:

Kickoff: 9pm

City: Marseille

Stadium: Stade Vélodrome

Capacity: 67,394

Referee: Luke Pearce, England

Assistant referees: Matthew Carley, England; Christophe Ridley, England 

TMO: Brett Cronan, Australia


This was the Bok XV and replacements announced by coach Jacques Nienaber at about 7pm at their base in Toulon on Wednesday:

Springbok team

15 – Willie le Roux (Bulls) – 89 caps, 70 pts (14t)

14 – Grant Williams (Sharks) – 7 caps, 10 (2t)

13 – Canan Moodie (Bulls) – 9 caps, 20 pts (4t)

12 – Andre Esterhuizen (Harlequins) – 15 caps, 0pts

11 – Makazole Mapimpi (Sharks) - 40 caps, 130 pts (26t)

10 – Handre Pollard (Leicester Tigers) – 67 caps, 665 pts (7t, 91c, 145pg, 5d)

9 – Cobus Reinach (Montpellier) – 29 caps, 60 pts (12t)

8 – Jasper Wiese (Leicester Tigers) – 25 caps, 5 pts (1t)

7 – Duane Vermeulen (SA Rugby) – 72 caps, 15 pts (3t)

6 – Siya Kolisi (captain, Racing 92) – 78 caps, 50 pts (10t)

5 – Marvin Orie (Stormers) – 15 caps, 0 pts

4 – Eben Etzebeth (Sharks) – 115 caps, 25 pts (5t)

3 – Vincent Koch (Sharks) – 46 caps, 0pts

2 – Deon Fourie (Stormers) – 9 caps, 5 pts (1t)

1 – Ox Nche (Sharks) – 24 caps, 0 pts


16 – Marco van Staden (Bulls) – 17 caps, 0 pts

17 – Steven Kitshoff (Ulster) – 78 caps, 10 pts (2t)

18 – Trevor Nyakane (Racing 92) – 65 caps, 5 pts (1t)

19 – Franco Mostert (Honda Heat) – 69 caps, 15 pts (3t)

20 – Kwagga Smith (Shizuoka Blue Revs) – 36 caps, 30 pts (6t)

21 – Jaden Hendrikse (Sharks) – 14 caps, 12 pts (2t, 1c)

22 – Jesse Kriel (Eagles) – 64 caps, 70 pts (14t)

23 – Manie Libbok (Stormers) – 11 caps, 74 pts (1t, 21c, 9pg)


Tonga head coach Toutai Kefu named his squad on Friday.

The website reported:

Tonga head coach Toutai Kefu has named his match-day 23 to face South Africa in Stade de Marseille on Sunday 1 October, with Semisi Paea starting at number eight in place of the suspended Vaea Fifita, following his four-match ban. There are also two changes on the wings, with Anzelo Tuitavuki coming in for his Rugby World Cup debut on the left flank and Fine Inisi starting on the right.

* Semisi Paea steps into the breach at number eight, following Vaea Fifita’s four-game suspension, in a Tonga starting XV showing three changes to the one beaten by Scotland last week.

* Paea packs down in the back row with blindside Tanginoa Halaifonua and openside Sione Havili Talitui, who has made the second most tackles in this tournament (37) behind Wales’ Jac Morgan (44).

* The two other changes come on the wings with Anzelo Tuitavuki making his RWC debut on the left flank, with Afusipa Taumoepeau dropping to the bench, and Fine Inisi coming into the side on the right for Solomone Kata, who drops out of the match-day 23 altogether.

* The front-row trinity of loose-head Siegfried Fisi’ihoi, hooker Paula Ngauamo and tight-head and captain Ben Tameifuna remains intact for the third match in a row. Between them, they have made 15 career RWC appearances.

* Leva Fifita and Sam Lousi’s second-partnership is given another chance, despite a malfunctioning lineout, while Augustine Pulu and William Havili combine at half-back for the third match in a row.

* Havili has been successful from all seven of his place-kick attempts and is just as comfortably kicking from the right and left-hand side of the pitch with those attempts split 4-3. Only Italy’s Tommaso Allan (13) and Japan’s Rikiya Matsuda (10) have kicked more kicks with a 100% record.


1 Siegfried Fisi'ihoi

2 Paula Ngauamo

3 Ben Tameifuna (capt)

4 Halaleva Fifita

5 Sam Lousi

6 Tanginoa Halaifonua

7 Sione Talitui

8 Semisi Paea

9 Augustine Pulu

10 William Havili

11 Anzelo Tuitavuki

12 Pita Ahki

13 Malakai Fekitoa

14 Fine Inisi

15 Salesi Piutau


16 Sam Moli

17 Tau Koloamatangi

18 Sosefo Apikotoa

19 Adam Coleman

20 Sione Vailanu

21 Sonatane Takulua

22 Patrick Pellegrini

23 Afusipa Taumoepeau


To begin with, perhaps ... below is some of Liam Del Carme's build-up to this match ...

Sunday October 1 - 6.58pm

Hi, This is Marc Strydom, TimesLIVE/Arena Holdings sports editor and I'm your Live Blog host for Sunday night's Rugby World Cup pool B game, Springboks v Tonga at Stade Vélodrome in Marseille.

Again a disclaimer that your host is a football writer who will endeavour, having followed rugby as a regular Shark Tank attendee as a teen in the 1990s, to bring you the action as it happens as accurately as possible. I am of course not in the stadium (though I did once watch a match there — Bafana Bafana against the hosts and eventual 1998 WC champs, in THAT 3-0 defeat with Pierre Issa's two goals ... at the wrong end) — but in my living room in Melville, Johannesburg, for now. Later I will be in the Arena office (unfortunately, I've cancelled my DStv subscription). If I make any mistakes on the finer rule points or terminology, don't shoot me ... but feel free to comment on Twitter: @marc_strydom.

Liam Del Carme is in France for us — catch his match report and post-match analysis later and all his excellent coverage from the RWC, and all the other Arena Holdings coverage on TimesLIVE, TimesLIVE Premium and Sunday Times, here.

To follow — stay tuned for teams, match details and build-up ...

All the pools, results and fixtures here.

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