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Rugby World Cup: Springboks back on top of the World after Mapimpi and Kolbe tries seal dominant win over England

South Africa 32 England 12

South Africa's players celebrate winning the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup final match. Credit: Charly Triballeau/AFP
South Africa's players celebrate winning the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup final match. Credit: Charly Triballeau/AFP

Ruaidhri O’Connor in Yokohama

This one of the great World Cup final performances, delivered by a team only 18 months in the making who destroyed English dreams with their forwards and then ran riot with their pacey outside backs.

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It was a win based on old school Springbok rugby, but the trophy will be lifted by the Rainbow Nation's first black captain Siya Kolisi. Like the skipper, the all-important first try scorer Makazole Mapimpi grew up in a township. Twenty-four years after Nelson Mandela and Francois Pienaar, the famous story has a new chapter.

Rassie Erasmus is utterly vindicated for his decision to leave Munster early and then install himself as the South Africa coach.

His team had the easier route to the final and he managed his resources well so they arrived in Yokohama to deliver their best when it mattered most.

He delivered a tactical masterclass, undermining England's strengths through their set-piece and power game from early on, grounding them down slowly, but surely.

England, so imperious against the All Blacks at the same venue a week ago were destroyed in the scrum, allowing Handre Pollard to build a score.

Eddie Jones' men stayed in it as long as they could and even looked to have turned momentum their way midway through the second-half, but after playing conservatively for so long the 'Boks finally went through the hands and delivered a score worthy of any final through Mapimpi.

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England were unable to repeat their fast start from the semi-final as Handre Pollard sent the restart deep and then Courtney Lawes got caught on the wrong side of a ruck.

The out-half sent his penalty wide, but the momentum was checked further when Kyle Sinckler was knocked out cold when he collided with Maro Itoje.

Sinckler's loss was a disaster. Dan Cole was left to scrummage for 77 minutes and South Africa were only happy to settle in for set-piece after set-piece.

After an almost five minute delay, Cole came on and South Africa immediately monstered the scrum and attacked with penalty advantage. Willie Le Roux made ground, Cheslin Kolbe followed but the attack was snuffed out by a superb Elliot Daly turnover.

England cleared, but Pollard then collected his own kick and the 'Boks came again. They had the men in white in trouble, but le Roux knocked on in contact and the chance passed.

Not that it bothered them, they again pressurized the scrum and with England on the back-foot forced a penalty off loose play off the back of it with Duane Vermeulen forcing Owen Farrell to hold on.

England just couldn't get into the game; Itoje was penalised for a knock-on when he might have had a penalty, Eben Etzebeth picked off a Jamie George throw and the scrum again earned a penalty.

Jonny May kept Pollard's touch-finder in play a la Richie Mo'unga, forcing the 'Boks to attack from deep and, while they did march England back, they again couldn't make their dominance count on the scoreboard.

England finally got an in when Pieter-Steph du Toit played the ball from offside and Ford went to the corner.

They stressed the 'Boks with their attack and eventually settled for a penalty as Owen Farrell levelled matters. The defensive set was a costly one, with Mbongeni Mbonambi and Lood de Jager forced off for head injury assessments.

England botched the restart, with Tom Curry knocking on and despite a new hooker and second-row the 'Boks' scrum dominance continued and they earned another penalty for Pollard to make it 6-3.

A silly piece of ill-discipline from Faf de Klerk, who played Ben Youngs at a ruck, handed the English a chance to get into the South African half.

There followed an epic set in South Africa's '22, with England pounding on the line and South Africa defending through phase after phase and eventually Jerome Garces went back for an earlier penalty and Farrell levelled.

Despite a dominant Itoje hit on Etzebeth, Billy Vunipola was penalised for holding on and Pollard made it a three-point game again with a brilliant kick.

South Africa looked like they wanted to take it to half-time conservatively, but de Klerk was forced to play on the run when he dropped the ball before box-kicking. Instead, he threw a wide pass to Damian De Allende who released Lukhanyo Am, Daly dropped his kick and when another English scrum folded Pollard made it 12-6 at the break.

After defending what England threw at them for the first couple of minutes of the second-half, Rassie Erasmus threw on his replacement props.

The result was another scrum penalty as they once again marched England backwards. Pollard delivered the penalty from just inside England's half.

Jones' men were in deep trouble, but after conceding another scrum penalty in the South African '22, Itoje turned over a Springbok maul and the under-pressure English eight forced a scrum penalty of their own.

Farrell narrowed the gap to six points from the tee, but missed a big chance to bring it back to three when Pollard slipped when counter-attacking, Anthony Watson tapped his ankles as he recovered and Curry got over the ball.

The 'Boks won the restart, Eben Etzebeth threw a wonderful offload and then Willie le Roux got a big return from a raking kick in behind. From the lineout, South Africa brilliantly forced England offside by using de Allende off the top and then setting up a maul in-play. From in front of the posts, Pollard restored his side's lead.

Having conceded the penalty, Manu Tuilagi made up for it off the kick-off with a monster hit on Duane Vermeulen, Malcom Marx came in from the side and Farrell reduced the gap once again.

Romain Poite then intervened, the touch-judge spotting an illegal block from Watson on Makazole Mapimoi but Pollard couldn't convert from well within his own half.

It wasn't to matter, after 66 minutes of grinding England down South Africa broke them with a sensational try.

Spotting Joe Marler on the edge, de Klerk moved the ball left through Am and Marx to Mapimpi who chipped ahead. Am gathered and found his winger who raced in unopposed.

Garces went upstairs, but found no reason to rule it out. Pollard converted and they led 23-12.

Cheslin Kolbe almost finished the job as England chased, but he couldn't hold Youngs' pass. Instead England attacked, du Toit stopped Watson short and the winger knocked on allowing South Africa to clear.

Kolbe put a gloss on things when he picked up Henry Slade's dropped ball and the Toulouse man left Farrell for dead to score.


SOUTH AFRICA - W le Roux; C Kolbe, L Am (F Steyn 69), D de Allende, M Mapimpi; H Pollard, F de Klerk (H Jantjes 77); T Mtawarira (S Kitsoff 44), M Mbonambi (M Marx 22), F Malherbe (V Koch 44); E Etzebeth (RG Snyman 60), L de Jager (F Mostert 22); S Kolisi (capt) (F Louw 64), PS du Toit, D Vermeulen.

ENGLAND - E Daly; A Watson, M Tuilagi, O Farrell (capt), J May (J Joseph 70); G Ford (H Slade 50), B Youngs; M Vunipola (J Marler 46), J George (L Cowan-Dickie 60), K Sinckler (D Cole 3); M Itoje, C Lawes (G Kruis 46); T Curry, S Underhill (M Wilson 60), B Vunipola.

Ref: J Garces (France)

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