South Africa pulls off great escape to beat England and make Rugby World Cup final

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Paris: South Africa pulled off a great escape to beat England 16-15 at the death and keep their title defence at the Rugby World Cup alive, setting up a blockbuster final against old rival New Zealand.

One of them will win a record fourth Rugby World Cup.

The Springboks trailed for the entire semi-final against England until replacement flyhalf Handre Pollard kicked a 78th-minute penalty from near halfway to edge them thrillingly ahead.

From there, the Boks held on and closed out a second come-from-behind nail biter after the one-point win over host France in the quarterfinals.

South Africa’s Deon Fourie is tackled by England during their semi-final.Credit: AP

The England side executed its gameplan to perfection to be in control, sending kick after kick from the base of the ruck or from Owen Farrell at flyhalf down onto the Springboks, who struggled with the high bombs all day in the rain in Paris.

Farrell kicked four penalties and a long-range drop goal to put England 15-6 ahead with less than half an hour to play.

South Africa’s comeback started with a try to replacement lock RG Snyman in the 69th minute. The conversion put them two points behind at 15-13.

The Springboks’ set-piece misfired for most of the game but they won a scrum near halfway in the closing minutes and replacement props Ox Nche and Vincent Koch set themselves for a huge heave.

The scrum went sideways and the Boks won the penalty they were looking for, leaving Pollard to send the highest of pressure goalkicks through the middle.

Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber, who will leave after the World Cup and might have thought his time was up in the semis, put his head down on a desk in the coaches box and covered it with his hands at the end as the Springboks erupted in celebration.


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