New Zealand will play in the 2015 Rugby World Cup final after a narrow 20-18 victory against South Africa in Saturday’s semi-final at Twickenham. The All Blacks will now eye a record third word title while the Springboks must contemplate Friday’s bronze medal match at the Olympic Stadium across town. The New Zealanders dominated throughout the match but the Boks did not make it easy for them.
The South Africans won the first penalty of the match for a 3-0 in the third minute. Jerome Kaino scored the first try of the game in the sixth minute and Daniel Carter landed the conversion. After that Kiwis attacked but the green and gold defence was tight.
Afterwards the world champions’ captain Richie McCaw said: ‘In the first half it was a disappointment, a little (sic), but we managed to get back into the game.’ And he was right despite three more Handre Pollard penalties ensured a 12-7 half-time lead for Heyneke Meyer’s men.
In the second stanza Beauden Barrett crashed the opposition defence by scoring the second try of the day for the men from the land of the long white cloud. Before the five-pointer Meyer’s men were still 12-10 up but the match momentum swung after Bryan Habana was shown a yellow card for infringement. The African side would not give up though and Pollard booted another three-pointer, as did his replacement Pat Lambie.
However Carter kept Steve Hansen’s side in front with a 60th minute penalty to make it 20-15. The gap was closed by Lambie with 11 minutes to go. In the last seconds of the game South Africa’s defence was on its toes trying to stop New Zealand from scoring. The Springboks were at the wrong end of the field but Hansen’s lot were exactly where they wanted to be and now, are precisely where they aimed to be at the start of the tournament – in next week’s final at Twickenham.
Photo credit: Martin Myers