South Africans win at the end of a sad semi-final

Altercation between South African Faf de Klerk and Welshman Jake Ball on 27 October in Yokohama. MATTHEW CHILDS / REUTERS

This is never very good omen. We were surprised, several times, to watch the chronometer of giant screens. Without it happening a few meters lower, on the ground of Yokohama. If not a rugby match. A World Cup semi-final between South Africa and Wales. A match to forget. Except for the South Africans who won it (19-16), five minutes from time, Sunday, October 27.

Sufficient to end up in the final in a week. But not enough to enthuse the audience. And even less in the aftermath of the first semifinal, a feast match, right here, concluded by a victory of England over New Zealand (19-7).

No need to roll out the statistics to measure the contrast, overwhelming, between the two games. Overnight, day and night! Two different approaches to rugby.

If the English won through their defense on Saturday, they also played. An intense match against the All Blacks, without respite, with all-out initiative, movement, variety.

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All the reverse of the second semifinal, where South Africans and Welsh especially seemed to be trying to slow down time: as if their salvation was rather through destruction than by construction, as if they wanted to return to the world. 'stone Age.

Four penalties, plus one try

Warren Gatland, the Welsh New Zealand coach, had warned, announcing on the eve of the match that this second semifinal would be far from " the most beautiful match in the world ». It was honest. And very lucid, as the game of these Welsh has something predictable, mechanical. That of South Africans, too, may be even more destructive.

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Oh, there would have been some players able to contradict this grammar. But winger Boks (and Toulouse), Cheslin Kolbe, had to withdraw for this match. Just like the Welsh back, Liam Williams, also injured.

Just an observation: in the eighth minute of play, it was already the second scrum of the match, premise of a jerky match, where the day before, it was not until the 19th minute for the first to happen.

For the scoreboard, it had to rely on the opener Handre Pollard: three penalties in the first period, one more than his opposite Dan Biggar. Score at half-time: 9-6 and very few emotions.

After the break, a converted test on each side (Damian de Allende for the Boks, Josh Adams for the XV Leek). And a fourth penalty from Pollard, five minutes from the end, to regain the advantage.

At the end of the match, Waren Gatland spoke of a "Real tussle", from "Intense battle".

Third final

Without convincing, the Boks are preparing to play their third final of a World Cup and aim for their third title after the 1995 home and the 2007 in France.

Twelve years ago, the Boks had already had to face England to lift the Webb-Ellis trophy. An opponent who has, for now, flaunted much higher qualities this fall. And so they will find in a week, Yokohama, Saturday, November 2.

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For his part, Warren Gatland concludes his journey with the XV Leek. Twelve years, four titles at the Six Nations Tournament, but no World Cup final. "We have very few licensees in Wales compared to other nations, so we're well above our category.", he said, thinking " proud " of his players.

A thought, at this moment, for the XV of France: a victory in the quarter-final against the Welsh, a week ago, in Oita, and the Blues would have been in their place this Sunday, just to challenge a team of Springboks that we had known more formidable.


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