Dream realised, Boks help unite a nation
By Mike Godfrey
The Springboks realised their biggest dream when they demolished England on Saturday. While the bookies had England as firm favourites to secure their second World Cup Final victory, the Springboks upset the applecart in dramatic fashion as they romped home 32 – 12, thereby lifting the coveted William Web Ellis Trophy for the third time in seven World Cup appearances, equalling New Zealand.
Further adding to the magnitude of this achievement by Rassie Erasmus’ class of 2019 saw their first African black captain, Siyamthanda Kolisi raises the cup in his fiftieth test appearance and twentieth as captain.
England’s woes started in the first three minutes when their tighthead prop Kyle Sinkcler collided with his teammate, Maro Itoje, knocking himself unconscious. Fortunately, his replacement, Dan Cole played for the remainder of the game as a further injury in the England front row would have resulted in uncontested scrums.
Penalties exchanged between Handre Pollard and Owen Farrell saw the Boks leading early in the game 6 – 3. A defiant England did not concede easily as they attacked the Boks try line relentlessly, taking the ball through 25 phases of play. An immense defensive display by the Boks saw huge tackles executed on England’s number eight Billy Vunipola and scrum-half Ben Young.
This proved to be the defining moment of the match as England had thrown everything into these energy-sapping attacks, coming away with just three points to level at six all. Another penalty to the Boks saw Pollard edge his team in front, 9 – 6 at half time. By the 57th minute the England pack had fragmented badly and the ensuing penalty count saw the Boks leading 15 – 9.
The introduction of Erasmus’ ‘Bomb Squad’ off the bench saw the fresh legs of five forwards and two backs take the field. Earlier Franco Mosert had come on for the injured Lood de Jager. Holding a narrow lead, 18-12, a moment of pure brilliance between Makazole Mapimpi and Lukhanyo Am saw Mapimpi chip the ball over advancing defenders with Am gathering before sending Mapimpi in for the first try of the game and South Africa’s first in a World Cup Final.
Pollard’s successful conversion took the Boks to a commanding 25 – 12 lead and sent their supporters into scenes of wild celebrations. Moments later a huge tackle by Malcolm Marx on England’s Henry Slade dislodged the ball from his grasp for an ever alert Am to scoop the ball off the ground and offload to Pieter-Steph du Toit who in turn drew in the opposition defence and passed to the electric Cheslin Kolbe. With a deceptive turn of speed and direction, Kolbe left the diving England Captain, Owen Farrell lying in his wake and further beat the cross cover defence to get in for the Boks second try.
In a relentless display of forward power, the Boks beat England by an astonishing 32-12. Fittingly in the year where South Africa lost both their 1995 World Cup wingers, James Small and Chester Williams, it was to be the class of 2019’s Cheslin Kolbe and Makazole Mapimpi to score the Boks first and only tries in a World Cup Final.
On Friday, New Zealand claimed the Bronze medals with an overwhelming victory of 40 – 17 against Wales.