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HomesportSouth Africa hold off 14-man New Zealand to win record fourth Rugby...

South Africa hold off 14-man New Zealand to win record fourth Rugby World Cup

PARIS: South Africa produced a magnificent defensive display to edge 14-man New Zealand 12-11 in a compelling arm-wrestle of a Rugby World Cup final on Saturday (Oct 28) and win the Webb Ellis Cup for a record fourth time.

Only a single yellow card had been shown in nine previous World Cup finals but the crackdown on foul play in the game led to four being handed out over 80 minutes of intense rugby played out in front of a crowd of 80,065 at the Stade de France.

All Blacks skipper Sam Cane suffered the ignominy of being the first player to be sent off in a title-decider when his card for a high tackle was upgraded to a red after a bunker review just before halftime.

Despite playing for three quarters of the match a man short, however, the All Blacks stuck to their ball-running game plan and scored the game’s only try through Beauden Barrett to get within a point of the lead just before the hour mark.

The Springboks, led by man-of-the-match Pieter-Steph du Toit, managed to hold firm under huge pressure over the final quarter and Handre Pollard’s four first-half penalties proved sufficient to add another title to those of 1995, 2007 and 2019.

South Africa’s triumph kept the trophy in southern hemisphere hands for the fifth straight tournament and Siya Kolisi became only the second captain after All Black Richie McCaw to lift it twice.

“There are no ways I can explain it. The All Blacks took us to the end, they took us to a dark place,” Kolisi said.

“Credit to my boys too for the fight. I am just grateful we could pull it off.

“There is so much going wrong in our country, and we are like the last line of defence and we can show that we can achieve so much together.”

All Blacks flanker Shannon Frizell was the first to be shown a yellow card as early as the third minute for a clearout on Bongi Mbonambi that forced the Springboks hooker off the rain-sodden pitch with a leg injury.

Flyhalf Pollard kicked the penalty and added another in the 12th minute as New Zealand waited nervously to hear whether Frizell’s yellow would be upgraded to a red.

SLOTTED OVER

Frizell did come back on and helped New Zealand win a penalty that Richie Mo’unga slotted over to cut the deficit but Pollard replied with a 46m effort to give South Africa a 9-6 lead at the end of the opening quarter.

New Zealand were down to 14 men again just before the half-hour mark when Cane clattered head-first into Springboks centre Jesse Kriel but this time there was no reprieve and the All Blacks skipper sat out the rest of the game.

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