JOHANNESBURG – South Africa has beaten Wales, in the second semifinal match of the 2019 Rugby World Cup played at in Yokohama on Sunday, securing its place in the final match against England next Saturday .
Both sides were forced to make changes ahead of the clash with Sbu Nkosi replacing the influential Cheslin Kolbe after he failed to recover from an ankle injury.
Wales were also forced to bring in Leigh Halfpenny as a replacement for Liam Williams.
The sides had met twice before at the World Cup, with South Africa winning on both occasions.
The first victory came in the pool stages of the 2011 showpiece where South Africa claimed a narrow 17-16 win. The two-time World Champions got the better of their northern hemisphere opponents in the quarterfinal stages four years later, winning 23-19.
The 2019 edition of the encounter got off to a nervy start from both sides with the teams sticking to type and trying to dominate the kicking game.
South Africa got the first points on the board though a Handre Pollard penalty after Wales were penalized for not rolling away at the ruck.
Three minutes later and Dan Biggar leveled the score with a penalty of his own. The scores weren’t level for long as the battle of the boot continued, Pollard with his second penalty of the game.
The Springboks with a 6-3 lead after the opening 20 minutes.
Both sides were determined to stick to their game plan, but the Springboks did show some ambition to run the ball after spending some time in the Welsh half.
However, handling errors from the backline and turnovers at ruck time cost the Springboks the chance to get on the scoresheet again.
They eventually would extend their lead, with Pollard scoring his third penalty of the half 6 minutes before the break.
South Africa conceded another penalty just before the half time break, as Biggar reduced the gap to 3 points once again.
The sides went into the half time break with a 9-3 lead.
Wales were also dealt a massive blow just before the half ended with George North pulling up and having to go off the field.
Wales would get the first points of the second half through a Biggar penalty after 5 minutes of play.
It was a nervy opening 10 minutes, especially from South Africa with a number of knock-ons and handling errors with both teams struggling to assert any kind of authority on the match.
The moment that everyone was waiting for came in the 58th minute as Damian de Allende showed some good strength to hold off two Welsh defenders and crash over the line as the Boks finally managed to string a few phases together.
South Africa leading 16-9 heading into the final 20 minutes.
Wales looked to hit back straight away and managed to put together a number of phases close to the Bok try line.
Their sustained pressure eventually paid off as Josh Adams went over in the corner. Leigh Halfpenny slotted the conversion as the sides went into the final 15 minutes with the scores level at 16 all.
70 minutes gone in #RWCYokohama @Springboks & @WelshRugbyUnion are locked together with just 10 minutes left— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) October 27, 2019
This game has caught fire 🔥
The next score could be critical and potentially take them through to the #RWCFinal #RWC2019 #WALvRSA #WebbEllisCup pic.twitter.com/k13mvzJele
Wales tried to make the most of the momentum that they had built up and continued to apply the pressure on the Boks.
Francois Lou came up with a massive turnover as the game moved into the final 10 minutes. Pollard found touch with the resulting kick with South Africa forcing a penalty of their own within kicking distance.
Pollard slotted his 4th penalty of the game as the Boks took a 19-16 lead into the final 5 minutes.
South Africa held on for a hard fought win and set up a repeat of the 2007 final against England next weekend.
This article first appeared on EWN : South Africa beats Wales to face England in World Cup final