RWC19: How the Boks paved the road to World Cup glory

Makazole Mapimpi, one of the SA team's try scorers in the final, in action against England in the trophy decider. Picture: Getty Images

After England shocked the All Blacks in the semi-finals, they arrived as the big favourites for the final, but the Boks’ dominant scrum decimated their pack.

It’s time for local rugby fans to celebrate again, with Monday marking the one-year anniversary of the Springboks’ historic World Cup triumph over England.

We take a trip down memory lane to revisit the national team’s seven-match campaign in Japan.

21 September: New Zealand 23, SA 13 (Yokohama)

An early arrival in Japan would prove to be a masterstroke by coach Rassie Erasmus, but the Boks had to defy the odds after opening their campaign with a loss to New Zealand.

Early tries by All Black winger George Bridge and lock Scott Barrett saw the Boks trailing 17-3, and despite narrowing the gap to 17-13 after flank Pieter-Steph du Toit scored a try 18 minutes after the break, the South Africans lost crucial points in the pool stages.

In a sense, the defeat was a bit of a blessing in disguise as it put the Boks on a course that ensured they would only meet the All Blacks again in the final (though that, of course, never happened).

28 September: SA 57, Namibia 3 (Toyota)

Having lost to the All Blacks, the Boks set themselves a goal of winning their remaining six matches including three playoff games, to win the trophy. And they got off in style, scoring nine tries to beat neighbours Namibia.

Tries for the Boks were scored by hooker Bongi Mbonambi (2), flank Francois Louw, wing Makazole Mapimpi (2), centre Lukhanyo Am, fullback Warrick Gelant, flank Siya Kolisi and hooker Schalk Brits. Flyhalf Elton Jantjies added six conversions.

4 October: SA 49, Italy 3 (Shizuoka)

Erasmus identified this game as a potential banana peel for the Boks after a shock 20-18 loss to the Azzurri three years earlier, but the result was never really in doubt, with the Boks scoring seven tries with no reply as the ‘Bomb Squad’ was born.

Tries were scored by right wing Cheslin Kolbe (2), Bongi Mbonambi, centre Lukhanyo Am, left wing Makazole Mapimpi, lock RG Snyman and hooker Malcolm Marx. Flyhalf Handre Pollard added four conversions and two penalties.

8 October: SA 66, Canada 7 (Kobe)

A hat-trick by scrum-half Cobus Reinach was the highlight of the game after he scored three tries within just 11 minutes in the first half.

The Boks scored 10 tries, one of them by wing Sbu Nkosi, who had come into the team in place of the injured Cheslin Kolbe, who had hurt his ankle in the win against Italy.

The other tries were scored by centre Damian de Allende, fullback Warrick Gelant, centre Frans Steyn, hooker Schalk Brits, fullback Damian Willemse and prop Frans Malherbe. Flyhalf Elton Jantjies added eight conversions.

Cobus Reinach

Cobus Reinach scored a hat-trick against Canada. Picture: Gallo Images

Quarter-final, 20 October: SA 26, Japan 3 (Toyota)

Japan were the big surprise package of the tournament after their shock win over Ireland, and despite an early try by wing Makazola Mapimpi, the Boks only held a narrow 5-3 lead at half-time.

However, with a pack turning on the screws, the Boks scored two more tries in the 66th and 70th minutes and eventually secured a comfortable winning margin.

Tries were scored by wing Makazole Mapimpi (2) and scrumhalf Faf de Klerk. Flyhalf Handre Pollard added one conversion and three penalties.

Semi-final, 27 October: SA 19, Wales 16 (Yokohama)

It was arguably the Boks’ toughest game of the entire World Cup, with a 76th minute penalty by flyhalf Handre Pollard proving to be the only difference between the sides.

Erasmus was left frustrated by a half-time lead of just 9-6, but the defining point for the Boks came late in the second half when replacement flank Francois Louw secured a vital breakdown penalty.

Centre Damian de Allende scored the Boks’ only try, after a powerful solo surge to the line, while flyhalf Handre Pollard added the conversion and four penalties.

Final, 2 November: SA 32, England 12 (Yokohama)

After England shocked the All Blacks with a 19-7 win in the semi-finals they arrived as the big favourites, but the Boks’ dominant scrum decimated their pack and at half-time Rassie Erasmus’ men led 12-6.

The game remained tight, but when Lukhanyo Am and Makazole Mapimpi combined to score the Boks’ first ever try in a final, they were on their way to capturing a third world title.

It left the English stunned, and they could score only four penalties through their captain Owen Farrell.

Cheslin Kolbe sealed the result with a superb try later in the match, while flyhalf Handre Pollard converted both tries and also kicked six penalties for a 22-point haul from the game.

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