Twelve years on, South Africa and England will meet again in a Rugby World Cup final.

The Springboks have moved into their third World Cup finale, holding off a valiant effort from Wales to advance, winning 19-16 thanks to a late Handre Pollard penalty.

England await in Yokohama on Saturday, looking for belated revenge for the 2007 final, won by South Africa, who have a perfect record in their two World Cup finals to date.

Based on their performances so far this tournament, it’s a deserved honour for the Springboks, despite an inconsistent showing in their semifinal.

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In a game that promised little in terms of attacking rugby and delivered even less in the first half, it took 56 minutes for the line to be crossed. Only then did things get interesting – and thrilling.

Francois Louw, Faf de Klerk and teammates celebrate after the final whistle in Yokohama. Photo / Getty Images
Francois Louw, Faf de Klerk and teammates celebrate after the final whistle in Yokohama. Photo / Getty Images

Earlier, six penalties had been slotted, with Pollard and Dan Biggar the solitary source of attack for both sides.

Pollard produced three penalties in the first half, while Wales ended the first half with as many scoring plays (two) as injuries. Two Biggar penalties were negated by injuries to prop Tomas Francis (shoulder) and winger George North (hamstring).

The Springboks were trying their usual tricks, opting for the rolling maul off lineout wins, or running it straight and hard in the middle of the park, but Wales largely had their measure with a stout defensive line.

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However, Warren Gatland’s men offered similarly little on attack, with neither side showing much ambition or creativity on attack as they seemed scared to take major risks.

That continued until the final 20 minutes when the game burst into life. First Pollard made a decisive bust which ended with Damian de Allende breaking several tackles to cross in the corner, giving South Africa a seven-point lead.

Wales though, were going blow for blow with their counterparts, and immediately strung together 21 phases to hammer the South African line. A scrum was the eventual result of that pressure, which then paid off as Josh Adams went over, with Leigh Halfpenny producing a stunning conversion from the left sideline to tie proceedings at 16 points apiece.

Jake Ball of Wales clashes with Faf de Klerk of South Africa during the Rugby World Cup 2019 semifinal. Photo / Getty Images
Jake Ball of Wales clashes with Faf de Klerk of South Africa during the Rugby World Cup 2019 semifinal. Photo / Getty Images

Rhys Patchell’s attemped dropped goal with eight minutes to go had neither the distance nor the accuracy, and Wales’ discipline let them down at the death, giving away a penalty with just four minutes remaining.

Pollard comfortably stepped up to nail the winning kick, sending South Africa into the finale, and Wales to a meeting with the All Blacks in the dreaded bronze medal match.

South Africa 19 (Damian de Allende try; Handre Pollard con, four pens)
Wales 16 (Josh Adams try; Leigh Halfpenny con, Dan Biggar three pens)
HT: 9-6



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