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Twickenham played host to the biggest game of the tournament so far with two of the games heavyweights battling it out for a place in next Saturday’s Rugby World Cup Final. With an 80,000+ crowd of equal South African and New Zealand support it was a certainty that the game would live up to expectations.

As early as the first minute a break from Jess Kriel nearly gave South Africa the lead, but resolute defending from the All Blacks quickly conceded in a penalty placing South Africa in the lead.  The All blacks responded with a try from Jerome Kaino, converted by Dan Carter (at the second attempt).  

Surprisingly that was the last All Black score of the 1st half,  A series of penalties for infringements around the breakdown gave South Africa the opportunity to build a 12-7 lead.  Pollard slotting four penalties from four attempts.  The half ended with Kaino in the bin for deliberately kicking the ball when in an offside position, meaning that New Zealand would be a player down for the first 9 minutes of the second half.

With the Springboks ahead and with a man advantage it would take a huge All Blacks effort to turn the game around and they did five minutes into the half through a clever drop goal from Dan Carter which was then quickly followed up by a try for Beauden Barritt who was on to replace Nehe Milner-Skudder who had limped off.  

Carter duly converted and the All Blacks were now 17-12 in front 12 minutes into the second half. In a turn of events Bryan Habana was sent to the sin bin, while Dan Carter’s  penalty would take the All Blacks in to the lead of 20-15.

Pollard limped off in the 65th minute and with him possibly South Africa’s chances of making the final, although his replacement, Patrick Lambie scored a penalty in the 68th Minute with bring the Springboks within  two points.

With the rain lashing down the game became messy and with the clock hitting 80 minutes South Africa were left trying to run the ball out of their twenty two to drag themselves into the final.  it was not to be, The All Blacks held on and became the first team to reach 4 world cup finals and with the chance to make more history buy being the first team to win back to back tournaments.

Coach Hansen was clearly delighted at the end of the game that his players had done the job.  After the game he was quick to congratulate their opponents.

“What I would like to say is to congratulate South Africa. It was a massive game for both teams. I guess it is a shame that someone has to go home. The game could have gone either way and we are just grateful that we can go to the final next week,” said Hansen.

He was also praising of the way his team closed the game out and singled out his skipper.

"We have got a captain (McCaw) who is probably the greatest player the game has ever seen and he is also a great skipper. In 2007 as a young captain he was criticised a lot and I know that hurt him.”

So New Zealand now have a chance to become the first ever team to defend the Rugby World Cup and given the way they have played throughout the tournament you would not bet against them, All Blacks can now relax to see who their final opponents will be.  Australia and Argentina battle it out at Twickenham on Sunday.  It is not a given for the Aussies they will progress as the Argentinians have improved so much in recent times and despatched the Irish last weekend as if they were a tier 2 nation.  They also gave the All Blacks a tough opening game at Wembley at the start of the tournament.

An all-South Pacific final is still a possibility but it wont be easy for the Wallabies.

 


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RWC: All Blacks make final and get a shot at making history
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