- Pollard’s 78th minute penalty secured a 16-15 win
- England lead 15-6 after a dominant performance
- South Africa will face New Zealand in the final
PARIS, Oct 21 (Reuters) – Substitute flyhalf Handre Pollard kicked a last-gasp penalty as South Africa somehow found a way past a dominant England on Saturday to claim a 16-15 victory heading into them to the final of the World Cup against the partner. triple champion of New Zealand.
The defending champions saw the advantage in defeat as England’s kicking game kept them in their own half on a rainy night in Paris and took a 15-6 lead, But they hit back with a try by RG Snyman before substitute Pollard slotted home a penalty from close to the halfway line to seal the win.
It was the second straight single-point win for the Springboks after they beat France 29-28 and means the sport’s two superpowers will meet in the final for the second time, after South Africa won on home soil in 1995 in their first appearance. in the tournament.
“It was great but that’s what champions do,” said Springbok captain Siya Kolisi.
“Credit to England. They were written off before the World Cup but pulled themselves together and showed who they are.
For most of Saturday’s game, it looked like it would be the 2019 runners-up who would return to the final. Coach Steve Borthwick promised that he had a plan to trouble the world champions but there was nothing radical in their approach as they kicked non-stop in the rain and defeated the Springboks in the air.
That early control gave Owen Farrell two penalty chances, both of which he converted for a 6-0 lead.
Manie Libbok landed one for the Springboks but looked off the pace and was replaced by Pollard after 31 minutes, who soon gave away a penalty.
England, however, continued their disciplined approach, gaining ground from their deep kick, and another Farrell penalty gave them a deserved 12-6 halftime lead.
England, who were widely dismissed and 5-1 outsiders despite winning five consecutive games from the easier side of the draw, stretched their lead to 15-6 with a brilliant 47-yard Farrell drop goal and an upset likely.
With half an hour remaining all South African substitutes went on as their coaches desperately sought to find a foothold, although England would pay a heavy price for their failure to dominate. at any points.
Since beating South Africa in the pool stage in 2003, England have now lost five consecutive World Cup matches against them and haven’t won a single try, but even another penalty could have made the difference on Saturday.
The Springboks were barely out of their half before a superb touchfinder by Pollard enabled Snyman to charge over for the only try of the game.
Pollard converted to close within two points 10 minutes from time but England still did most of the running until they conceded a scrum penalty with three minutes remaining.
Pollard, called into the squad mid-tournament to replace injured hooker Malcolm Marx, has done enough to keep it to a minimum.
It was the first time South Africa had taken the lead and they stoutly defended England’s final attacks until a knock-on ended the challenge.
“We came here believing we were going to win and the players deserve a lot of credit for that,” Borthwick said.
“We have a very good group of players who learn quickly because we have to do it quickly. The opposition has four years and we have four months. So the players deserve a big credit.”
Reporting by Mitch Phillips; Editing by Ed Osmond
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