Rugby World Cup: All Blacks edge Springboks to make final
Steph Mallinson | October 24, 2015
South Africa 18-20 New Zealand
- Kaino goes from All Blacks hero with opening try to villain with sin-binning
- Four Pollard penalties give Springboks 12-7 half-time lead
- Habana also spends 10 minutes off the field
- New Zealand replacement Bennett crosses and Carter kicks seal victory
All Blacks come through sternest test
Rugby World Cup holders New Zealand did just enough against fellow Southern Hemisphere heavyweights South Africa to book their place in a fourth tournament final, edging the Springboks 20-18 at Twickenham.
Tries from Jerome Kaino (later sin-binned) and Beauden Barrett, both converted by Dan Carter, who also kicked a drop goal and decisive penalty, proved just enough to take the All Blacks, now odd-on 3/10 favourites with Coral to retain the Webb Ellis Cup, through.
South Africa failed to cross, with wing hero Bryan Habana also in the bin early in the second-half for an infringement, but six penalties – five from Handre Pollard and replacement Patrick Lambie kicking the other – made things interesting.
New Zealand struggle with discipline
Although the Springboks put the first points on the board, profiting from uncharacteristic All Blacks errors during the first-half, there was a swift response on the counter. Kaino tucked the opening try in the corner and Carter converted to turn a 3-0 deficit into a 7-3 advantage.
Conceding nine penalties before the interval did not help New Zealand’s cause, and this ill-discipline, including Kaino’s sin-binning for kicking the ball away when offside, saw them go in 12-7 down with Pollard with the boot.
Half-time handy for turnaroud
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen faced a tough talk in the dressing room, but whatever he said seemed to work with Carter quickly kicking a drop-goal after the restart.
Barrett followed suit with a second try, while Habana spent 10 minutes off the field after cynically knocking the ball out of Ben Smith’s hands in the build-up.
This war of attrition between two rugby union heavyweights never ceased with torrential rain coming down, making the Twickenham turf heavy underfoot and greasy on top – conditions neither South Africa nor New Zealand are used to at this time of year.
Springboks tired to their task
Kicker Pollard pulled up injured, being replaced by Patrick Lambie, but Heyneke Meyer’s men looked spent after more than 100 tackles and an attacking line run ragged.
The All Blacks kept more composure during a stronger second-half showing and their ability to grind out a result, avenging their 1995 final loss to South Africa, underlines their credentials as favourites to retain the Rugby World Cup.
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