Sunday 21 October 2007

The Wheels Fall Off The Sweet Chariot


South Africa 15-6 England

Justice. Sweet merciful justice. The Boks turned out to be one mountain too high for the sweet chariot to conquer. In a surprisingly close game South Africa managed to edge ze Eng-u-lish out of contention through the boot of their outstanding full-back, Percy Montgomery. The Springbok fifteen was given a solid platform to operate from his pack, Matfield in particular was immense. The two second rows, the gruesome twosome, abused the English lineout all day long. Between them Matfield and second row partner Bakkies Botha had stolen on average 7 lineouts a game in the tournament and last night it showed.

England's only chance of winning the game lay in their own monstrous pack. But after an initial show of strength shoving South Africa backwards on the first scrum the English Rose wilted spectacularly. The lineout was a shambles, the rucking was slow with poor ball presented to the backs and whenever they tried to attack around the fringes the English were faced with an implacable wall of green and gold. The Springboks were not going to be denied and their defence was ferocious.

The English may feel hard done by the video ref who denied Mark Cueto what appeared to be a legitimate score in the corner that with the conversion would have put England ahead 10-9. Though to be honest, bar that one incident the English never looked as though they were going to conjure a score to bring them back from the brink. For South Africa it was a simple case of beating England at their own game. Once they had established their lead the Boks just sat back and absorbed the English attacks, punishing England whenever they committed a mistake. Jonny Wilkinson's late attempt to drop a goal when the English were behind by 9 was a testament to the Springboks defence and typical of England's lack of creativity.

For the South Africans the joyous celebration of four years planning was uncontainable at the final whistle. All credit to the geriatric English team, Dad's Army had an unbelievable journey through the World Cup but if they had won it would've been the greatest injustice in the sporting world ever. Ever

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