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Matfield back, 6-try South Africa beats World XV 47-13 in season-opening workout

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CAPE TOWN, South Africa - A Victor Matfield-led South Africa used its powerful forwards to subdue a World XV and then ran away to win in its first workout of the year 47-13 on Saturday.

The Springboks replied to an early try by Alistair Hargreaves with six of their own, including two from rolling mauls by hooker Bismarck du Plessis.

Former World Cup winners Matfield and replacement flanker Schalk Burger returned to international rugby for their first games since 2011, and the Springboks stretched their 18-13 halftime advantage to a convincing win in the non-cap match at Newlands.

Wing Bryana Habana responded to Hargreaves' sixth-minute score with a try in the 17th. Bakkies Botha, reunited in the second row with fellow veteran Matfield, touched down in the 33rd. Du Plessis powered over twice in the second half, and backs Johan Goosen and Willie le Roux ran in late as South Africa kept the World XV scoreless in the second 40 after a tough battle in the first.

"Some harsh words at halftime and very happy we didn't concede any points in the second half," South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer said.

In the next three Saturdays, South Africa will host Wales twice and Scotland.

"There are a few things we're happy about," said the 37-year-old Matfield, who captained South Africa after returning this season from retirement. "Next week's a serious test match."

The touring team, made up of a combination of former tests players from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa — and a sprinkle of Europeans and Pacific Islanders — enjoyed better early continuity at the end of many of their club seasons.

Juandre Kruger and fellow South African lock Hargreaves combined, and Hargreaves scored against his home country by forcing his way over from close in. Australian James O'Connor kicked eight points to put the all-stars team in the mix at halftime before the Springboks tightened up and the home pack took control.

"Our attitude was there ... but the Springboks were too good," World XV captain and former Australia flyhalf Matt Giteau said.

Habana, the Boks' leading test try-scorer, hit back in the left corner as South Africa pounced on turnover ball. Veteran Botha finished off a break from Habana and a move which also involved Matfield to give South Africa a halftime edge.

That advantage was improved throughout the second half as du Plessis bullocked over at the back of rolling mauls in the 49th and 59th minutes.

And as the world team tired, replacement flyhalf Goosen darted through a gap two minutes from the end. Wing Lwazi Mvovo raced down the touchline and floated a pass inside for fullback le Roux to go over untouched in the dying seconds.

___

Scores:

South Africa 47 (Bismarck du Plessis 2, Bryan Habana, Bakkies Botha, Johan Goosen, Willie le Roux tries; Morne Steyn 2 conversions, 3 penalties, Goosen 2 conversions), World XV 13 (Alistair Hargreaves try; James O'Connor conversion, 2 penalties). HT: 18-13.

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