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South Africa produced a stunning performance to clinch the 2019 Rugby World Cup on Saturday, comfortably beating England 32-12 in Yokohama, Japan.
The first half was a tetchy affair, with both sides making a number of mistakes in possession. However, South Africa’s set-piece play saw them earn regular penalties, and four kicks from Handre Pollard put them 12-6 ahead at the interval, with Owen Farrell notching two for England.
After a couple more penalties each in the second half, South Africa made a decisive score through Makazole Mapimpi in the 66th minute, with his converted try moving the Springboks 25-12 in front.
With England chasing a late comeback, South Africa were then able to counter, with Cheslin Kolbe scoring their second try and sealing the contest:
Success for South Africa sees them draw level with New Zealand on three titles having previously won the tournament in 1995 and 2007.
The pattern of the first period was set early on, when England lost Kyle Sinckler following a heavy hit. His absence would prove detrimental to Eddie Jones’ team in the scrum battles later in the match.
South Africa were the stronger side from the off, and after Pollard missed with his first attempt at goal, he found his range quickly.
He slotted four penalties between the posts, including one on the brink of half time, to give the Springboks a six-point advantage:
England came closest of the two sides to scoring a try in the first period, but they were held up by some stellar defensive play from South Africa, per Matthew Southcombe of the MailOnline:
As Guy Williams relayed at half time, England were going to have to produce a historic second half if they were to clinch the Webb Ellis Cup:
England’s task didn’t get any easier after the restart, when another brutal scrum from South Africa resulted in another penalty, allowing them to extend their lead to nine.
Despite their struggles, England were able to keep knocking kicks over themselves, as a couple more from Farrell came either side of another from Pollard. With an hour gone, the Springboks had an 18-12 lead.
The decisive moment in the game came not long after, as South Africa produced a sweeping counter, finished brilliantly by Mapimpi:
Per The Sportsman, it was the first time the Springboks have ever scored a try in a World Cup final:
England sought to rally in the final stages, but a combination of errors on their part and continued rock-solid defence from South Africa prevented them from building any late momentum.
Eventually, the Springboks capitalised on that desperation, with Kolbe producing a sensational finish to cap off a fine performance from his side.
The win is testament to head coach Rassie Erasmus, who has done a stellar job turning the South African team around since his arrival. He will be delighted with the manner in which his side executed their game plan on Saturday, as they were dominant against a strong opponent.