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An All Blacks team depleted by the first-half loss of skipper Sam Cane to a red card have fallen agonisingly short in the Rugby World Cup final.
South Africa produced a magnificent defensive effort to edge 14-man New Zealand 12-11 in an arm-wrestle this morning (NZ time), claiming the Webb Ellis Cup for the fourth time in eight attempts.
Only a single yellow card had been shown in nine previous World Cup finals but the crackdown on foul play led to four being handed out over 80 minutes of intense rugby at Stade de France in Paris.
Despite playing for three quarters of the match with 14 men, the All Blacks stuck to their ball-running game plan and scored the game's only try through Beauden Barrett to draw within a point of the lead just before the hour mark.
The Springboks held firm under huge pressure in the final quarter, however, and Handre Pollard's four first-half penalties proved sufficient to retain the title they won four years ago in Japan.
First five-eighth Pollard kicked the penalty and added another in the 12th minute while New Zealand waited nervously to hear whether Frizell's yellow would be upgraded to a red.
Frizell did come back on and helped New Zealand win a penalty that Richie Mo'unga slotted over to cut the deficit but Pollard replied with a 46-metre effort to give South Africa a 9-6 lead at the end of the opening quarter.
New Zealand were down to 14 men again just before the half-hour mark when Cane clattered head-first into Springboks centre Jesse Kriel but this time there was no reprieve and the All Blacks skipper sat out the rest of the final.
No team had ever recovered from a halftime deficit to win a World Cup final and the Springboks came out flying in the second half looking to drive home their advantage.
Kolisi, however, was sent to the sin bin in the 46th minute for a high tackle on Ardie Savea and New Zealand halfback Aaron Smith thought he had scored the first try of the contest eight minutes later after a brilliant break from Mo'unga.
That score was called back for a knock-on earlier in the move but Beauden Barrett was awarded a try four minutes later despite winger Mark Telea looking to have fumbled the ball forward in the tackle before the fullback touched down.
It was the first try South Africa had conceded in four World Cup finals but Mo'unga missed the conversion from wide-out and the Springboks held onto a one-point lead at 12-11.
Kolisi had by now returned to the fray and South Africa brought their famed "bomb squad" off the bench to relieve the starting forwards.
South Africa winger Cheslin Kolbe was the fourth player to be yellow-carded seven minutes from time but New Zealand's Jordie Barrett struck the subsequent 48-metre penalty attempt wide of the posts.
"To come within a whisker of pulling it off... it's heartbreaking. I'm proud of our guys, to go down to that red card so early and fight our way back and give ourselves a chance is pretty special. I don't think it went wrong in any clear (way), it was a real arm wrestle, both teams had their moments... I'm incredibly proud of the way we fought."
South Africa coach Jacques Nienaber described his side as "warriors" after the match, saying their experience proved the difference in the dramatic victory and a gruelling battle that forced them to dig deep and left both sides out on their feet.
"I think the main thing was just the strength of the squad," the coach said. "They’re experienced, they've been in a World Cup final before, some of them were playing a third World Cup. So I think the experience just pulled it through, they’re an amazing bunch of guys, all warriors.
"We’ve come a long way with these players, we’ve planned for this since 2018," added Nienaber, who is leaving for a job in Ireland after the tournament in France.
"Relief is the first word that comes to mind. We thought we can’t mess this up because we believed from 2018 they had the ability to win the World Cup. I’m relieved for the players, they deserve that they were good enough to do that."
It was victory by the slimmest of margins against their traditional rivals who fought back despite a numerical disadvantage.
"The All Blacks took us to a dark place, it just shows what team they are, they fought, they put us under so much pressure," said captain Siya Kolisi. "Credit to my boys for the fight, I’m just grateful."