RWC Grand Final Live :: For South Africa, it’s onwards and upwards as they face England in a rematch from the 2007 tournament, which should be an absolute cracker.
England and South Africa will contest a Rugby World Cup Final for the second time in 12 years after both advanced to Saturday’s Yokohama showpiece.
The Springboks have defeated Wales 19-16 in the second semi-final to book a date with England in the final Today.
It was a tight arm wrestle for the vast majority of the contest – truly one for the purists. Penalty goals dominated the scoring with just one try apiece; a clutch kick from Handre Pollard in the 75th minute proving to be the difference between the two sides.
South Africa were first to score with Pollard slotting a penalty in the 14th minute. Dan Biggar and Pollard went back and forth throughout the first 40, the halftime score being 9-6 in favour of South Africa.
The Springboks started the second half slowly. Uncharacteristic errors by Faf de Klerk and Willie le Roux put them under unnecessary pressure, before Biggar levelled the scores at 9-all in the 46th minute.
South African centre Damian de Allende broke the deadlock with a magnificent effort to score out wide in the 56th minute.
He carried the ball in both hands which put the Wales defenders in two minds, after which he dummied and fended his way over the line.
Wales were gifted with an absolute mountain of possession shortly after. A penalty against South Africa saw the Welsh with a line out throw on the five-metre line.
After 21 phases with the ball (and doing absolutely nothing with it), Wales received a penalty, and skipper Alun Wyn Jones made the brave call to pack down against this monster Springboks forward pack five metres out from the line.
The Boks pushed back hard, but a simple through the hands play saw Josh Adams cross in the corner for Wales in the 65th minute. Locked up at 16-all, extra time looked a likely possibility.
Wales had a great chance to set up for a field goal off the back of a penalty against Francois Louw. They won the line out 35m out, but South Africa forced them back with some brutal defence.
Eventually, Biggar was forced to take the shot from a bad position and did not even get close. The wind had left the Welsh sails – now South Africa were looking for their chance.
A penalty against Wales gave the Boks a piggyback downfield in the 75th minute. A collapsed maul gifted them another penalty, from which Handre Pollard added the three match-winning points, seeing South Africa through to their third Rugby World Cup final.
For Wales, they will face an equally disappointed New Zealand side who were unexpectedly dominated by England in the first semi-final.
Eddie Jones’s men produced a titanic performance to dominate New Zealand, who hadn’t lost a Rugby World Cup match since their quarter-final defeat to France a dozen years ago.
Meanwhile, the Springboks edged past Wales 19-16 to set up a mouth-watering shootout for the Webb Ellis Cup, with England the favourites to avenge their defeat on the grandest stage in world rugby in Paris in 2007.
That would mean a second world crown for the Red Rose following a Jonny Wilkinson-inspired success against Australia 16 years ago, while South Africa are battling for a third world title (1995, 2007).
Jones said: “We set out four years ago, and we wanted to be the best team in the world. We are not the best team in the world, but we have got an opportunity to play in a game to prove we are, and that is all we are concerned with.
“We will just take each day as it comes. We have got another week to enjoy it, and that is what we will do.”
Ben Spencer is set to make his Rugby World Cup debut in the tournament’s final after Willi Heinz was ruled out by a hamstring problem sustained against New Zealand.
Heinz came on in the 63rd minute of the stunning 19-7 semi-final victory over the All Blacks that has booked England a final berth against either South Africa or Wales on Saturday.
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While the Gloucester half-back struggled on until the end, the Rugby Football Union has confirmed he will play no further part in the tournament and have summoned Spencer to Japan.
Saracens scrum-half Spencer has won three caps as a replacement and will perform the same role as deputy to Ben Youngs at International Stadium Yokohama.
England have a number of injury concerns ahead of the final with Owen Farrell and Jonny May nursing dead legs, while prop Kyle Sinckler has a calf issue.
Anthony Watson was able to finish the semi-final demolition of New Zealand but he received regular treatment during the game for an unspecified knock.
Meanwhile, Heinz will stay with the squad at their training base in Tokyo.
Score prediction: England 21-10 South Africa
Form goes out of the window on occasions such as these but England will be favourites going into the Final after sending the dominant back-toback champions packing – and in some style – on Saturday.
Eddie Jones’s men must be disciplined, as they have been so far in the tournament, as Handre Pollard won’t need a second invitation to punish them with the boot.
England have been installed as warm favourites to win their second Rugby World Cup after South Africa made hard work of their semifinal win over Wales in Yokohama on Sunday night.
The Springboks were in real danger of losing the dour clash until veteran flanker Francois Louw won a crucial turnover to repel Wales deep into the second half.
The scoreboard reads 19-16 and style points are irrelevant in games of that magnitude.
But it was impossible to watch both semifinals and not fancy Eddie Jones’ England in next Saturday’s decider — with a day’s extra rest and preparation on top of their superior formline.
“You feel it’s England’s to lose, yeah,” former England five-eighth Stuart Barnes said on Fox Sports, while also acknowledging South Africa’s ability to upset the apple cart.
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Boks book finals berthBoks book finals berth4:38
“I would not, for a moment, be discounting the Springboks.
“I have too great a regard for their rugbuy
“But it’s not an arrogant England team.
“Yes, some England teams have been in sporting events in the past.
“But this team are not like that.
“It’s an England team that has worked damn hard.
“Jones has come there with that sunny southern hemisphere disposition that has changed England.”
England produced one of the most impressive performances of the professional rugby era in beating New Zealand 19-7 on Saturday.
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Boks finally break throughBoks finally break through0:48
It was notable that there were no wild celebrations despite that monumental performance, which contrasted with Faf de Klerk and South Africa letting their hair down a little.
Sunday’s semi was a tough watch and the Springboks’ conservative, kick heavy approach played into Wales’ hands.
But as former Wallaby Stephen Hoiles stressed, they have more in their arsenal than that.
“I’ll go England,” Hoiles said when asked to predict the champion.
“I can see South Africa playing a different style of footy, the fast and furious footy that they threw at the All Blacks in the first game of this World Cup.
“But England, on form, are going to be hard to beat.”
South Africa’s appearance in the final continues a remarkable resurgence under charismatic coach Rassie Erasmus, who inherited the team at a low ebb.