VIDEO: Pressure now on Boks in play-off race
Ireland has their destiny in their own hands, while South Africa is now under pressure to put themselves in an equally commanding position.
The men from the Emerald Isle, Ireland, not only cemented their No.1 world ranking, but took command of Pool B at the World Cup with their impressive 13-8 win over defending champions South Africa in Paris at the weekend.
Ireland top the pool with 14 points – leaving them just one point shy of a play-off spot – after their win over the Springboks in a bruising encounter at Stade de France.
South Africa, after winning their first two matches, bagged a losing bonus point from the loss – leaving them hovering perilously in second place on 10 points.
The Springbok need to secure a full-house five points when they face Tonga in Marseille this coming Sunday, October 1.
Scotland have five points after drubbing Tonga 45-17 in Nice on Sunday to keep their hopes of making the World Cup quarterfinals alive.
They will look to bag another five against Romania in Lille this coming Saturday, September 30 – before a potential winner-takes-all clash against the Irish in the two sides’ final pool game on October 7 in Paris.
However, for South Africa to avoid getting into that dog fight, they #MUST beat Tonga convincingly with a bonus point in Marseille.
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Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber admitted his team is under the pump after the loss to Ireland.
“Whoever won this game, it would take a bit of pressure off them in the last round,” said Nienaber.
“That pressure is now on us.
“We have a big game in eight days.
“We must beat Tonga to get out of the pool and that’s the sole thing we will focus on.”
While the Boks are fortunate to have an eight-day turnaround, after their Saturday game, Tonga took their beating on Sunday and have a short week.
“We will do a proper review on the [Ireland] game and take it from there.”
Asked about the host team, whom the Boks could potentially meet in the quarterfinal, Nienaber said he has not looked at France yet.
“If we slip up against Tonga, we won’t even get to a quarterfinal.
“For us to start thinking about France now we will be getting ahead of ourselves.
“We will focus on Tonga for now and then we have our bye week after facing Tonga.
“So we will have time to prepare for whoever we face in the quarterfinal.”
(WATCH as Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber talks about the consequences of his team’s deflating 8-13 loss to Ireland in Paris at the weekend….)
South Africa’s Director of Rugby, Rassie Erasmus, played down the impact of the loss and resulting pressure.
“I wouldn’t say it has added pressure,” he told @rugby365com.
“You just want to get out of your pool.”
He also played down speculation over whether they could face France or New Zealand in the quarterfinals.
“We will let destiny decide that, because they’re both formidable opponents.
“There’s no added pressure because the pressure was always to get out of this slippery pool.”