Handre Heroics Send Springboks To Rugby World Cup Final

South Africa’s thrilling triumph over England in the Rugby World Cup semifinals was a stunning match that kept fans on the edge of their seats.

Rugby knockout is violent. The difference between winning and losing can be a tiny error or a tiny change in momentum.

That’s precisely what happened to England when South Africa defeated them 16–15 in the 2023 Rugby World Cup semifinals held in France.

Many spectators may have been taken aback by the incredible sight that was the contest, which was fiercely contested to the very end.

England was the clear underdog even though, going into the weekend, they were the only unbeaten team in the tournament.

Up to the semifinals, England’s performance had been erratic at best, and although South Africa produced an incredible

performance to brush aside the home favorite France in the quarters, England, through the luck of the draw, faced Fiji, which was the less demanding matchup.

And yet England fronted up to the challenge posed by South Africa and looked the better team for much of the contest. Their forwards dominated the contact area, bullying the Springboks, who so often are the ones dishing out the big hits.

England was happy to take the points whenever they were on offer and, for all the recent criticism of his kicking, Owen Farrell delivered, meaning his side led 15-6 with just over 10 minutes to go.

But that was when South Africa reacted. Like all great champions, the Springboks found a way back into the contest, spurred on by some huge calls from the coaching staff.

The first came in the 30th minute when Manie Libbok was pulled off for Handrè Pollard. Evidently, Jacques Nienaber and Rassie Erasmus foresaw that the game would be won on fine margins and precise goal kicking, so they turned to their veteran fly-half for support.

That decision paid off in the latter stages, as Pollard reminded the rugby world why he’s one of the most clutch players in the game.

After South Africa had gained a scrum penalty halfway through, he was involved in his first significant play. With composure, Pollard advanced and sent a rocket into the corner, giving his team a line-out five meters from the England line.

A few phases later, South Africa pulled within two points of England when RG Snyman blasted himself over the line to score the game’s first try.

Pollard’s second intervention resulted from a scrum penalty he gained close to the halfway line, but this time he chose to kick goal.

With that much weight on their shoulders, most players would crumble, but Pollard gets better when the pressure is increased. He strode forward and drilled the ball into the middle of the posts with little fuss.

With just New Zealand standing in their way, the Springboks’ hopes of winning the World Cup again on the spin were restored when the ball was struck as delicately as possible, advancing them to their second consecutive final.

Even more astonishingly, South Africa won by just one point for the second time in a row, after defeating France 29–28.

Knowing they had given it their best on the field, white shirts fell to the ground in complete sorrow as the last whistle blew. Many athletes had years of their finest play while wearing a white shirt.

Maro Itoje was outstanding; he pin-point jackaled in the rucks and forced several big hits that forced turnovers.

Courtney Lawes never stopped running, and the front row was excellent in the set piece. Between them, Joe Marler and Dan Cole all but nullified the threat of Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe, meaning the Springboks struggled for momentum for large swathes of the game.

It was England that controlled the tempo, happily opting to take the points whenever they were within range.

Nienaber and Erasmus were clearly concerned as the scoreboard swung increasingly in their favor; they even made the decision to bench important players like Siya Kolisi and Eben Etzebeth.

The side, desperate for a spark, discovered Ox Nché to be its savior.

The South African scrum took control as soon as the prop was activated. Nché dismantled Kyle Sinckler, the substitute in front of him, with strength and skill.

The entire game changed when the Springboks, inspired by their new front row, started to earn scrum penalties at critical moments.

Both of the scrum penalties, which resulted in Pollard kicking for touch and then slotting the game-winning penalty, were caused by Nché.

In actuality, the scrum served as the game’s pivot.

For nearly seventy-five minutes, England led the score, but when it counted most, their scrum broke.

Test matches are decided by those little margins.

Far from being a legendary Springbok effort, it was sufficient, and that’s what counts in the end.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button