The Springboks have booked their place in next Saturday night’s World Cup final with a 19-16 win over Wales in Yokohama tonight.
That sets up a meeting with England, which will be a rematch of the 2007 final. The English sensationally beat the All Blacks 19-7 last night, meaning that they will now play the Welsh in the third place playoff in Tokyo on Friday night.
The Boks ground out their tough win through the kicking of halfback Faf de Klerk, who dominated play at the base of the ruck. First-five Handré Pollard was perfect off the tee, landing four penalties and a conversion, including a clutch kick in the 76th minute that gave the Boks the lead.
There were only two tries, both in the second half of what could be described as a pretty dour match. Damian de Allende scored off a nice bit of work by Willie le Roux, then beating several defenders on the way to the line, which Pollard converted from the sideline. Josh Adams then finally crossed for the Welsh after a long period in the 22, running onto a flat pass off a five-metre scrum.
Dan Biggar’s sideline conversion locked up the scores, and it seemed as though it might be headed for extra time as both teams battled it out in the middle of the park. However, Pollard came through when the Welsh were penalised for a ruck infringement.
The Springboks then wound down the clock for the remaining few minutes to seal the win.
It is a bitter result for Six Nations champions Wales, and next weekend’s match will be the last for coach Warren Gatland before he heads to Hamilton to take charge of the Chiefs.
The Boks probably did not do an awful lot to send shivers down the spine of the English, though. If both teams play the way they have in their respective semi-finals, we will definitely be looking at an English World Cup win.
Springboks 19 (D de Allende try; H Pollard 4 pen, con)
Wales 16 (J Adams try; D Biggar 3 pen, con)
HT: 9-6 Wales