- New Zealand turns around half-time deficit to overcome South Africa 20-18 in the first RWC semi
- All Blacks will now meet Argentina or Australia in next Saturday’s final
- Handre Pollard’s four first-half penalties had given Boks’ a 12-7 lead at the break
- All Blacks flanker Jerome Kaino touched down the only try of the opening 40
- The back-row was then sin-binned just before half-time
- Second-half score from Beauden Barrett proves to be the crucial try
If New Zealand do become the first nation ever to win successive Rugby World Cups, they will look back at their win by the narrowest of margins against South Africa in the semi-finals as one of the truly significant moments of their campaign.
The All Blacks will now meet the victor of the second semi-final between Argentina and Australia next Saturday in the RWC final at Twickenham, while South Africa take on the defeated in the third-place match on Friday night.
South Africa had led 12-7 against their great rivals at half-time thanks to four sweetly struck penalties from fly-half Handre Pollard.
New Zealand though had scored the only try of the first half through Jerome Kaino, which Dan Carter converted. However, the Kiwis’ indiscipline cost them as Pollard’s accurate kicking from the tee meant the underdogs led 9-7 late in the opening 40.
Things then went from bad to worse for the reigning world champions as they ended the half a man down after Kaino was sent to the sin-bin. Pollard then added another three points from the tee on the edge of half-time, 12-7.
Despite being a man down after the restart, New Zealand began on the front foot with Carter cutting the Boks’ lead to two points with a drop goal. The All Blacks then recaptured the lead when Beauden Barrett crossed the whitewash with Carter converting after 50 minutes, 12-17.
Springboks’ record try-scorer Bryan Habana was simultaneously sent to the sin-bin for a cynical offence in the build-up to the score.
Pollard and Carter then exchanged penalties before Boks’ replacement Pat Lambie took up the kicking duties and reduced the All Blacks lead to just two points, setting up a grandstand finish.
However, New Zealand displayed their class and their ability to adapt to any situation as they held on for the famous victory.
The Springboks got off to an encouraging start when Pollard opened the scoring from the tee after just three minutes.
New Zealand though got straight on the front foot from the restart and opened the try scoring soon after through Jerome Kaino. The back-row received a lovely offload from All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw before brushing off an attempted tackle from Lood de Jager to touch down in the corner.
Dan Carter missed with the first conversion attempt but referee Jerome Garces said South Africa had charged before the Kiwi fly-half had moved and at the second attempt he was able to add the extras to give New Zealand the lead, 3-7.
However, South Africa were able to creep back in front through two extra kicks from the tee via fly-half Pollard.
Things then went from bad to worse for the reigning world champions as their try scorer Kaino was sent to the sin bin for kicking the ball in an offside position after 37 minutes with Pollard kicking the resulting penalty to give South Africa a five-point lead at half-time, 12-7
Despite still being a man down after the restart, the All Blacks started the second half on the front foot with Carter striking a drop goal from just outside the Bok’ 22 to cut the deficit to just two points. The strike also made him the first non-English player to score over 100 points at Twickenham.
New Zealand, restored to 15 men, then captured the lead for just the second time in the game when they touched down their second try of the contest after 52 minutes. Powerhouse centre Ma’a Nonu released replacement Beauden Barrett, who with his fresh legs raced in to dive in the corner. Carter converts, 12-17.
South Africa’s record try-scorer Habana was simultaneously sent to the sin-bin for a cynical offence in the build-up to the score.
Fly-halves Carter and Pollard then exchanged penalties as the semi-final continued to be a closely contested affair, 15-20.
Pat Lambie then replaced a struggling Pollard and with his first effort from the tee brought the Boks’ within two points with a penalty, setting up a grandstand finish to the game but Steve Hansen’s All Blacks would hang on for the famous victory.
MAN OF THE MATCH
New Zealand: Ma’a Nonu
South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Fourie du Preez (c), 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Jannie du Plessis, 19 Victor Matfield, 20 Willem Alberts, 21 Ruan Pienaar, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Jan Serfontein.
New Zealand: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Joe Moody.
Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Victor Vito, 20 Sam Cane, 21 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Sonny Bill Williams.
Date: Saturday, October 24
Venue: Twickenham, London
Kick-off: 16:00 local (15:00 GMT)
Referee: Jérôme Garcès (France)
Assistant Referees: Romain Poite (France), Johnny Lacey (Ireland)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)