South Africa overwhelm England to win World Cup

Cheslin Kolbe is enveloped by his teammates after scoring a late try that secured South Africa's...
Cheslin Kolbe is enveloped by his teammates after scoring a late try that secured South Africa's third World Cup title. Photo: Reuters
South Africa have done it - they've upset the odds and beaten England in the World Cup final with a mixture of skill, brutality and an utter self-belief that this was their destiny.

It means that Siya Kolisi, the first black man to captain the Springboks, had earned the honour of lifting the Webb Ellis trophy, an incredible moment for an inspirational leader, a man born to teenage parents in the poor township of Zwide, just outside Port Elizabeth on the Eastern Cape.

There were other firsts in this compelling final during which England, so good against the All Blacks in their semifinal on this ground seven days ago, hardly fired a shot. A significant one was Makazole Mapimpi's neatly taken try after 66 minutes which effectively put the game to bed, for it was South Africa's first in a World Cup final.

Another to the little firecracker of a wing Cheslin Kolbe put a seal on a match that the Boks thoroughly deserved to win, one which was played in front of a very large England support among the 70,000 in attendance, many of whom may have arrived in Japan this week in the expectation that they would see a second World Cup victory for their nation.

How wrong they and many of the so-called experts were. The final scoreline may have been a little misleading, but the Boks could have scored a third try in the final five minutes they were that dominant, England's white wall looking very much worse for wear. Not this time, Eddie Jones. Chalk up one very significant victory for your coaching rival Rassie Erasmus.

How England managed to play so well against the All Blacks in their semifinal may go down as one of the great unanswered sporting questions. Maybe it's because the All Blacks bring out the best in just about every team they face. Maybe it's just the case that England couldn't back up one of the finest performances in their history.

They were awful here. Whereas last weekend they played with belief, skill and without fear – here they were nervous, they second-guess themselves, and they even appeared a little fearful of going into contact; although that may have not been surprising given how the Boks were defending.

It was brutal and there were casualties, although the early ones were due mainly to friendly fire. England prop Kyle Sinckler was off with concussion after colliding with teammate Maro Itoje inside three minutes and just after the first quarter, Boks hooker Mbongeni Mbonambi and lock Lodewyk de Jager joined him on the sideline.

In a big indication that this may not be their night, England's scrum went backwards at a terrible rate of knots, the normally cool Owen Farrell appeared rattled.

After a typically cagey start interspersed with a daring attempted attack from behind their goalposts, they gained parity with a penalty to get back to 6-6 but it came after such a long period of attack – repelled time again by the Boks – that their opposition may have felt they had the better of the deal.

And if it wasn't for the Vunipola brothers, Mako and Billy, the English wouldn't have had much of an attack at all.

Whereas last weekend they had all the answers, here, when it really counted, they were clueless at times, the Boks growing in confidence by the minute, with halfback Faf de Klerk, flanker Pieter-Steph du Toit and No 8 Duane Vermeulen heroes all.

Enjoy it South Africa, and Siya, you certainly deserve to.

South Africa 32 (Makazole Mapimpi, Cheslin Kolbe tries; Handre Pollard 6 pens, 2 cons)
England 12 (Owen Farrell 4 pens)
Halftime: 12-6

 

 

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