CAPE TOWN - Cheslin Kolbe and Makazole Mapimpi produced two match-winning tries to help the Springboks clinch the Rugby World Cup final 12-32 in Yokohama.
The Springboks are world champions, 12 years since clinching it for the second time in 2007. They became world champions for the third time, and the first team to ever lose a pool match and go on to win the trophy.
Mapimpi scored his sixth try of the World Cup to cap a brilliant performance in Japan; a chip and chase effort that left the England defence stunned. Kolbe, manwhile, produced a moment of brilliance that highlighted a dream tournament for the World Rugby Player of the Year nominee.
Earlier it was the boot of Handre Pollard that kept England out of reach of the Springboks, despite some nervous moments. After missing an early penalty in the second minute, Pollard made amends by slotting four more penalties to give South Africa a 6-12 lead at half-time. But it was the forwards who set the platform the Boks' victory, after much talk before the game about England's superiority in this department.
England were unsettled when prop Kyle Sinckler left the field as early as the second minute, after a knock to the head. He was replaced by Dan Cole. From then on the Springbok forwards dominated the scrums and owned the big hits, forcing errors out of the English and precious turn over ball.
In the 30th minute, the Springboks defence was tested by an England attack that could have swung the match in England’s favour. The Bok forwards stood up to the challenge just centimetres from their try line, pushing England back at every turn.
A 39th-minute penalty by Pollard gave South Africa a 6-15, and the momentum shifted again.
When substitutes Steven Kitshoff and Vincent Koch were introduced in the second half they immediately made their presence felt. Eventually, England put in a big scrum in the 50th minute, forcing a penalty that Owen Farrell converted to close the gap to 9-15.
South Africa gave away another penalty in the 53rd. This time Farrell missed, his kick shaving the upright.
After 65 minutes, and an exchange of penalties took the score to 12-18, Mapimpi struck the telling blow. Minutes earlier he forced the turnover, after gathering a high ball. This time Willie le Roux the high ball from England. From the resultant ruck, quick hands from Lukhanyo Am and Malcolm Marx found Mapimpi on the left. He chipped and Am chased and gathered the ball metres from the try line. He flicked it back for Mapimpi on his left to jog over the try line and make it 12-25.
There was a nervous pause to the game, however, when TMO was used to check a forward pass, but the referee's original decision stood. The moment proved to be pivotal in the match as the gap between the two sides grew and England remained on the back foot.
South Africa were relentless on attack and unmoved in unpanicked in defence as England grew more desperate with time running out.
Kolbe, who has been the standout player in this tournament, put the result beyond doubt in the 73th minute when he slipped an Owen Farrell tackle first, and then scampered to the try line, to crown a historic day for coach Rassie Erasmus, captain Siya Kolisi and the rest of the Bok team.
The Springboks win the Rugby World Cup for the third time, after their triumphs in 1995 and 2007.
This article first appeared on EWN : Springboks crowned World Champions at RWC 2019