South Africa vs England:South Africa head into the Rugby World Cup final against England next Saturday knowing they still have plenty to work on but fully expecting another war of attrition rather than an open game, according to coach Rassie Erasmus.
South Africa lost its opening pool match against the All Blacks, 23-13, but cruised through the rest of its pool matches and defeated Japan, the upstart host nation, 26-3 in the quarterfinals. Japan had gone through its pool undefeated, with impressive wins over Ireland and Scotland.
The match against Wales on Sunday was a defensive struggle that featured a lot of tactical kicking, with both teams alternating between short, high “box kicks” and long punts to gain a territorial advantage.
South Africa have sealed a World Cup final date with England after outlasting Wales 19-16 in a dour semi-final affair that had both nations biting their fingernails.
It means Wales will face New Zealand for third place on Friday before South Africa and England play off for the Webb Ellis Cup.
It was a tough slog from the outset for both teams with plenty of kicking as field position was the name of the game with the goalkickers working overtime.
The 19-16 result was a dour affair with two tries breaking the drudgery midway through the second half as the teams played out a tactical game.
It definitely lived up to the teams’ expectations throughout the week.
It won’t be the prettiest game in the world,” Wales coach Warren Gatland said Friday before the game.
Both teams don’t play the most exciting rugby with South Africa playing a physical game, aiming for a dominant set piece and a disciplined kick-and-chase game while Wales also play a basic, low-risk style under Gatland.
The fans were quick to note their frustration and despite a close game.
Early in the second half, former Wallaby Rod Kafer added that “the game is there to be taken, whoever wants to actually run with the ball and get past two or three phases”.
He added through the second half that “I don’t know how many purists would love this sort of stuff”.
South Africa’s Handre Pollard scored 14 points to steer Rassie Erasmus’ team to a hard-fought 19-16 victory over Wales in Yokohama on Sunday.
Pollard nervelessly kicked the decisive penalty with four minutes to go as the tense game threatened to go to extra time with the scores locked at 16-16.
“We’re in the final of the World Cup… but that’s only half way there. We’d love to win the World Cup,” Erasmus said.
“We play a class England team in the final now but we’re there. We’ve got a a chance now and we might go all the way. You never know.”
It was a true battle of the boot as the 1995 and 2007 World Cup champions ground out a victory that consigned Wales to their third tournament semi-final defeat after previous losses in 2011 and 1987.
The two teams played out a dreadful first half of rugby dominated by turgid set-piece, crash balls and aerial combat as both sides kicked the leather off the ball.
There was none of the verve shown by England in their gripping 19-7 victory over New Zealand on Saturday, but the slowed rhythm suited the Springboks.
Locked at 9-9 early in the second half, centre Damian de Allende finally broke the try-scoring deadlock with a stunning individual effort.
The Bok centre shrugged off a weak challenge by Dan Biggar and fended off Owen Watkin and Tomos Williams for a fine individual five-pointer that Pollard converted.
With 20 minutes to play Wales spurned a shot at goal to go for deep lineout. The maul was thwarted but the Welsh went through multiple phases and were eventually awarded another penalty in front of the posts, electing to go for the scrum.
The bold decision, made to gasps from the crowd, paid off as Ross Moriarty managed to get the ball to Tomos Williams who fed Jonathan Davies, the centre’s instantaneous pass finding Josh Adams, who crossed in the corner for his sixth try of this World Cup.
Halfpenny hit the conversion to put the scores level and with Wales suddenly in the ascendancy.
But Rhys Patchell and Pollard both missed with ambitious drop-goal attempts before the latter kicked his crucial fourth penalty to eliminate Wales and set up a final against England on Saturday.
South Africa will play England in the Rugby World Cup final after a tight semi-final victory over Wales.
In a scrappy game, the first try of the match came in the second half when Damian de Allende crashed over to give South Africa a seven point lead with 24 minutes to go.
Josh Adam scored Wales’ first try of the game just eight minutes later as Warren Gatland’s side’s brave decision not to kick a penalty for a guaranteed three points paid off. Leigh Halfpenny converted to level the scores at 16-16.
With time running out in the match discipline was key, but a Pollard penalty from 35 yards allowed South Africa a chance to lead 16-19 with four minutes to go, and that is how it finished, South Africa making their third World Cup final.
Coming into the game both knew England would be their opponents if they could make it to the final after Eddie Jones’ side’s impressive win over reigning world champions New Zealand a day earlier. All focus was on progression to the next stage of the competition.
It took until the 15th minute for the first points of the match after a nervy start from both sides under the lights at the Yokohama International Stadium. Wales were punished for not rolling away and Pollard successfully put South Africa three points ahead from right in front of the posts.
Just two minutes later and Wales were level. Willie le Roux got his timing wrong at the breakdown and was penalised for being offside. Biggar made the score 3-3 from a tight angle from the resulting penalty.
With so much at stake it was proving to be a tight contest with kicking playing an important role in the outcome of the game. The Boks were given a penalty following a scrum on 20 minutes that put them back ahead 6-3.
South Africa were growing in confidence in a scrappy game, but not even their rolling maul was proving effective against a stubborn Wales defence.
As half time approached South Africa extended their lead to six points. Ken Owens was penalised for a maul infringement and Pollard kicked his third penalty through the posts from the left touchline.
Despite swirling wind, both sides were keen to get involved in a box-kicking battle. Wales were awarded a penalty for a tackle without the ball and Biggar reduced his side’s deficit to three points with a minute to go before half time, as George North was forced off with a muscle injury to his leg.
READ MORE: Dream shot: the story behind an iconic rugby photo
READ MORE: Meet the sports photographer bringing the game to life
READ MORE: Rugby World Cup 2019: best photos from the group stages
The second half started in a similar fashion to the end of the first half. De Klerk spilled a Halfpenny kick into touch and Wales had a lineout inside the Boks’ half. South Africa were then penalised for jumping across the lineout and Biggar levelled the scores at 9-9 from the resulting penalty.
After a long wait, the decisive moment in the match came on 56 minutes with the first try of the match. Damian de Allende showed power and resilience to throw himself over, and following Pollard’s conversion South Africa led by seven points, 9-16.
England produced one of their greatest-ever displays to storm into the Rugby World Cup 2019 final with a 19-7 victory over New Zealand that reduced the reigning champions to a rabble.
From the moment Manu Tuilagi crossed after 97 seconds an extraordinary match beckoned and the final scoreline did little justice to the domination of Eddie Jones’ men, who were superior in every single facet of the game.
New Zealand had won their previous 18 World Cup matches dating back to 2007 but at International Stadium Yokohama they were flattened by a juggernaut led by the unstoppable Maro Itoje.
England will face either South Africa or Wales in next Saturday’s final and having crushed the odds-on favourites to win the Webb Ellis Trophy, they will be expected to repeat their solitary triumph of 2003.
New Zealand’s only meeting with England in a Rugby World Cup semifinal delivered one of the most iconic images in the sport’s history. The sight of the late Jonah Lomu trampling over England’s fullback Mike Catt on the way to score one of his four tries as the All Blacks booked a place in the final of the 1995 World Cup has gone down in folklore.