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YOKOHAMA, Japan (AP) — It was attritional, it was error-strewn, it was mostly a kick-fest. It was pretty much exactly what was predicted, perhaps even uglier.
The Springboks won’t care: They’re into the Rugby World Cup final again.
In a semifinal that will not be fondly remembered, South Africa eked out a 19-16 victory over Wales to set up a title match against England in Yokohama. It’s a rematch of the 2007 final won by the Springboks in Paris for their second and most recent world title.
Just like 12 years ago, they’ll be relying on their physicality, set-piece strength and structured game to get them through.
It was just enough against Wales.
A day after a supreme display by England in an upset win over the All Blacks, this was a grafting contest that was ultimately settled by a 76th-minute penalty by South Africa flyhalf Handre Pollard. He didn’t miss any of his five kicks at goal — four penalties and a conversion after Damian de Allende’s 57th-minute try.
“It probably wasn’t the best spectacle to watch,” South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus said, “but the boys stuck to their guns and adapted to it.”
The Welsh, seeking to reach a first final, recovered from a sloppy, mistake-riddled start that somehow only left them 9-6 down at halftime and took the game to the Boks in the second half, their bench giving them energy and better field position.
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