Sunday, October 28, 2007
JP Pietersen has never been renowned for his defensive prowess. Still a youngster, a few years ago he may have been singled out by coaches or opposition players as a flamboyant player with ball in hand, but on defence he was a little leaky. Some would say very leaky.
But, when Fiji were at their most dangerous against the Springboks in the Quarter Final, JP pulled off a vital tackle that will forever be looked back on by Fijians and South Africans alike. A tackle that, at that stage in the match with Fiji looking absolutely deadly, may have just saved the Boks' outcome that day and possibly changed the course of rugby history forever.
Yes, it was just one tackle some may say. But it was a tackle that was made by a 85kg wing on a 120kg lock that had just inches between the ball, the tryline, and most importanly for the Springboks, the William Webb Ellis trophy.
We can speculate all we like, but the truth is that if Pietersen had given big Ifereimi Rawaqa that extra inch he needed to score, Fiji would have then scored 3 tries in the space of about eight minutes, and with the Boks' heads down they may well have gone on to cause another upset and knock the men in green and gold out of the World Cup. This was no ordinary tackle.
"That tackle was like I was tackling five guys in one. He was huge and moving," said Pieterson.
"I just closed my eyes and tried to hit as hard as possible.
"I guess I was lucky that he was carrying the ball in the wrong hand. When I tackled him I put my eyes on the ball. I knew when I tackled him and pushed him over that I'd got the ball.
Definitely one of the most important Defining Moments of the tournament.