South Africa Springboks' Fourie Du Preez attempts to kick the ball from the grasp of Samoa's Kahn Fotuali'i during their Rugby World Cup Pool D match at North Harbour Stadium in Auckland. Picture - Reuters

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South Africa ensured their place as group winners in Pool D after holding off a spirited Samoa side in Auckland.

At half-time, the Springboks held a 13-0 lead after Bryan Habana crossed, Morne Steyn converted and then struck a penalty while his namesake Frans also converted a penalty. 

However, the Samoans came out in the second half and put in a spirited performance, sending jitters down South African spines when George Stowers crossed in the 51 minute.

Despite the sending-off of Paul Williams, Samoa continued to pressure the Springboks. However, the defending champions held on for the win.

Apart from being group winners, their victory also ensured the end of Samoa's World Cup campaign, unless Fiji manages to beat Wales by more than 39 points while crossing four tries and conceding none.