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South Africa 32
THE SPRINGBOKS CAPPED their remarkable resurgence under Rassie Erasmus over the past two seasons in stunning fashion by utterly outplaying favourites England to seal their third World Cup trophy.
Siya Kolisi lifting the William Webb Ellis trophy as the Boks’ first-ever black captain in front of a crowd of 70,103 in Yokohama will top off a truly special night for South African rugby.
Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO
Erasmus will take his deserved lion’s share of the credit for intelligently guiding the Boks’ turnaround since returning home from Munster at the end of 2017, the South Africans having endured two horrific years before that which had seen them drop to seventh in the World Rugby rankings.
Now, they are the champions of the world after a complete performance in the final against the heavily-fancied English, who were poor a week on from their brilliant semi-final win over New Zealand.
The Boks utterly dominated the scrum after Eddie Jones’ side had the misfortune of losing tighthead prop Kyle Sinckler in the third minute, with the South African pack winning penalty after penalty in the set-piece.
Their defence, coached by Jacques Nienaber, was wonderful, with man of the match Duane Vermeulen and his team-mates hammering English carriers and forcing error after handling error from Jones’ team.
Fittingly, the Boks sealed the game with two brilliant tries from wings Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe in the final quarter to show that they have plenty of class in attack too.
It was a complete display from Erasmus’ men and, rather worryingly, the former Munster boss believes this World Cup is only the start of the resurgence of South African rugby.
The Boks’ victory also means there is an Irishman with a World Cup winner’s medal in the shape of 32-year-old Felix Jones, who joined Erasmus’ backroom staff before the tournament.
Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO
The Springboks’ onslaught began very early.
Having seen Courtney Lawes give away a second-minute penalty for failing to roll clear of a tackle, England were relieved to watch South Africa out-half Handré Pollard miss his first shot at goal.
But they suffered that big early blow in the minute that followed, as Sinckler’s head collided with Maro Itoje’s right elbow and he was knocked out cold. Dan Cole entered the fray and was almost immediately penalised at the scrum, although Erasmus’ men ran the penalty advantage.
Eventually, Elliot Daly forced a turnover for England after the Boks had shown more ambition in attack and the South Africans’ second visit into the England 22 saw Underhill’s tackle on the lively Willie le Roux force a knock-on.
More scrum pressure allowed the Boks to take the lead in the ninth minu
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