Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Boks smash and grab semi win over England: Five key moments

The win by the 2019 champions sets up a monstrous final against their biggest rivals, the All Blacks, at the same stadium in a weeks’ time.

The Springboks produced a massive smash and grab to steal a 16-15 win over a fighting England in their Rugby World Cup semifinal clash at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis on Saturday night.

It was an incredible fightback that saw the Boks, who were dreadful for most of the match, come back from a nine point deficit with 12 minutes to play to clinch an amazing win in the end.

ALSO READ: Boks book dream Rugby World Cup final against All Blacks

It sets up a monstrous final against their biggest rivals the All Blacks at the same stadium in a weeks’ time.

Here are five key moments in the match:

Poor lineouts

A number of poor lineouts from the Boks in the first half robbed them of early territory and possession and gave England some good early impetus.

Their first lineout of the match was stolen by lock Maro Itoje, while hooker Bongi Mbonambi threw two skew throws as a major strength of the Boks misfired early.

The Boks did manage to clean up their lineout act over most of the rest of the match, but another lost lineout in England’s half while chasing the game in the second half again stopped their momentum.

Losing the aerial battle

England were fantastic in the aerial battle over most of the match, while the Boks largely struggled, especially early on.

England fullback Freddie Steward was immaculate, while wing Johnny May chased hard and made a nuisance of himself the whole match.

The Boks by contrast weren’t at the races at all. The Bok chasers were slack, they didn’t contest enough, they were constantly beaten to the ball and were very lucky that it didn’t cost the team in the end.

The scrumming master Ox

Ox Nche has arguably been the Boks’ biggest weapon at the World Cup. He is undoubtedly the best loosehead prop in the world and has proved it in every game he has played.

It was his introduction that swung the match back in the Boks’ favour as the scrum, which had been very even over the first 46 minutes, suddenly turned in the Boks’ favour as Ox smashed first Dan Cole and then Kyle Sinckler when he came on.

Vincent Koch must also be given credit for coming on and backing up Nche perfectly. In the end it was two scrum penalties that essentially won the match for the Boks.

The ice man Pollard

Handre Pollard was again the hero for the Boks as for the second week in a row he had ice in his veins to nail a long range penalty from the halfway to basically win the match for the Boks.

Pollard was introduced early in the match in the 30th minute for Manie Libbok, who didn’t do anything wrong, but it was just a match that was tailor made for Pollard as he proved it over the rest of the game.

He was solid overall, but it was two big moments towards the end of the game that won it for the Boks, being his huge touch finder, for a lineout that led to RG Snyman’s try, and his winning kick.

A change in energy and intensity

The Boks showed a massive lack of energy and intensity over the match as it looked like the huge effort they put in to beat France in the quarterfinal the previous weekend had taken all the power out of them.

In most aspects the team just looked incredibly flat, until a fantastic change in energy and intensity in the second half, led by the bench, powered them to the win.

Most of the players that came on brought that energy and intensity that had been lacking and it was the 69th minute try led by the replacements that sparked the comeback. Pollard found a brilliant touch, the lineout was secured, Deon Fourie made a superb break and RG Snyman powered over to score.

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