RWC 2019: Talking points as Springboks bid to upset favourites England in final

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England will face South Africa in the World Cup final at the International Stadium Yokohama on Saturday.

Here we examine the key talking points ahead of the match.

ONE HAND ON THE TROPHY FOR ENGLAND?

After their stunning victory over New Zealand, the Red Rose will justifiably go into the final as firm favourites to lift a second Webb Ellis trophy.

Their pack will back themselves to match the Springboks and they boast superior class out wide in Anthony Watson and Jonny May.

In the semi-final, they dominated every facet of the game from set piece to aggressive defence to their creativity in attack.

All logic points to an England victory.

However, the Boks won’t mind coming into the decider as underdogs.

They were unlucky not to win against England at Twickenham last November when Owen Farrell escaped a red card for a late shoulder charge on Andre Esterhuizen.

Even with England’s class of late, there will be no fear factor for a team brimming with confidence under Rassie Erasmus’s tutelage.

The Boks overcame England in a home series last summer and, even if it’s not pretty on the eye, they play the type of game that is tailor made for knock-out rugby.

They have arguably the best set piece and one of the best defences in the tournament and, with a player like Handre Pollard whose accurate boot purrs with confidence, they’ll back themselves against any team.

CLASH OF STYLES

Eddie Jones is flexible in his coaching approach and is happy to match up to the opposition, which makes Saturday’s decider an even more enthralling prospect.

England’s challenge to replicate last weekend’s scintillating performance in Yokohama is no easy task.

Entering the final as favourite is something which brings its own pressure and a different dynamic.

With this, it’ll be interesting to see whether Jones employs the same expansive game from the win over All Blacks or whether he will opt to go for more of a power game – a key strength of the Springboks.

The versatility of his backs, with Farrell able to cover 10 and 12, has allowed the Australian to change things up during the tournament.

Now, he must draw up a plan with his backroom staff for one final battle.

Erasmus meanwhile has his side playing a brand of rugby that isn’t easy on the eye, but has proven hugely effective against all opposition to date.

Being physical and confrontational is what the Boks do best.

During the victory over Wales, South Africa ground down the Dragons with their power and accurate kicking game.

If South Africa are to go on and beat England, it will be in similar fashion.

CAN THE BOKS IMPOSE THEIR GAMEPLAN?

When suffocating the opposition, South Africa have been at their immaculate best, especially in the second half of matches when teams are worn down by their power.

In the opening pool match against the All Blacks, they dominated territory and possession but were unable to convert their control into scores and were ultimately exposed by a better side.

While the Boks did run out comfortable winners against Japan in the quarter-final, they were troubled for large spells of the contest until they scored two late tries.

It was the same against Wales, until their physicality, solid set piece and staunch defence stood them in good stead in what was an ugly battle.

The South Africans will want to make the game a battle of the forwards and batter the English pack before creating space for the elusive Cheslin Kolbe and Makazole Mapimpi out wide.

Erasmus won’t mind playing boring rugby. They won both their previous World Cups without scoring a try, including the 2007 final against the Red Rose.

WHO WILL BE THE STARS?

In every World Cup, different players emerge with their stock high after a series of commanding displays on the big stage.

For England, George Ford, Sam Underhill, Kyle Sinckler, Manu Tuilagi, Maro Itoje and Tom Curry have been the stand-out players during the tournament so far.

Curry, in particular, has been a sizzling presence and could win player of the tournament if the Red Rose triumph on Saturday.

It’s hard to believe the Sale man is only 21, yet the influence he has shown in defence is truly remarkable.

For the Boks, Damian De Allende has been their talisman and proves to be a menace on both sides of the ball, while Faf de Klerk and Pollard have flickered at times.

England were expected to be there or thereabouts after their voracious performances this calendar year.

But for a side like South Africa to go from a humiliating 57-0 defeat to New Zealand in 2017 to a Rugby World Cup final two years later is a stunning achievement.

It might not be a thriller on Saturday, but it’ll be a memorable victory for whoever comes out on top in Yokohama.


Head down to McGettigan’s JLT this weekend to watch the Rugby World Cup final and soak up the atmosphere.

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