In an epic Rugby World Cup semi-final showdown against England, South Africa emerged victorious, setting the stage for a monumental final against New Zealand this Sunday (AEDT) in Paris.
The Springboks have been installed a $2 chance to defeat the All Blacks, with the Kiwi outfit at $1.80, with these bookmaker prices indicating a close World Cup final is expected.
The match was clinched by Handre Pollard, a last-minute addition to South Africa’s squad due to an injury, as he coolly slotted a penalty from halfway at the 78th minute, bringing the score to 16-15 at Stade de France.
The game was a true test of skill and resilience, with England leading for most of the night until South African powerhouse RG Snyman scored the match’s sole try in the 69th minute, swinging the momentum in the Springboks’ favor. Wet conditions and the weight of what was at stake contributed to the tension-filled atmosphere.
This coming final is a throwback to the iconic 1995 World Cup final in Johannesburg, where South Africa triumphed in front of the late Nelson Mandela.
Reflecting on his match-winning penalty, Pollard said he always wanted to thrive in the big moments.
“It was a big moment, but it is what you want as a player on this stage. To have moments like that as a fly-half is what you live for. It was fun,” he said.
“It’s unbelievable, there’s a lot of relief in this moment. Frustrated we weren’t at our best tonight, especially in the first half.”
He also praised England’s strategic pressure and expressed pride in his team’s tenacity.
“We knew we had so much more to give but fair play to England, I think they put us under pressure in exactly the right areas,” he said.
“But jeez the fight we showed, never giving up, it is what we stand for as a team and as a nation.”
England captain Owen Farrell, who was responsible for all of England’s points, including a vital drop goal, shared his pride despite the loss.
“After a difficult loss like this all that stands with me is how proud I am to be English,” he said.
“You can always look back at things, but South Africa are a top, top side. They have shown that over the course of the World Cup.”
As South Africa prepares to face New Zealand in the final, it’s worth noting that both teams have clinched three World Cup titles each, with Australia following closely with two, and England with one.
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