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South Africa win tense final to claim fourth men’s Rugby World Cup

MELBOURNE: South Africa became the first nation to win four men’s Rugby World Cup titles after holding off New Zealand in a dramatic final at Stade de France.

Four Handre Pollard penalties to two from Richie Mo’unga gave the Springboks a 12-6 lead after a first half in which All Blacks flanker Shannon Frizell was sin-binned for an incident in which Mbongeni Mbonambi was forced off injured. Then New Zealand captain Sam Cane became the first player to be sent off in a RWC final for a high tackle on Jesse Kriel.

Siya Kolisi and Kurt-Lee Arendse both went close for South Africa before Kolisi was yellow-carded as the All Blacks fought back. Aaron Smith was denied a try for an earlier knock-on before Beauden Barrett touched down to bring them to within a point.

There was late drama as Cheslin Kolbe was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on and Jordie Barrett missed a long-range penalty that might have won it for New Zealand as the Springboks maintained their perfect record in finals, adding to their crowns in 1995, 2007 and 2019.

“I guess as a team we like drama,” Mastercard Player of the Match, Pieter-Steph du Toit, who made 28 tackles, said. “The last three games have been quite tough. We played each one as a final and each one was [won] by one point.

“It shows the resilience of the team.”

South Africa captain Siya Kolisi paid tribute to New Zealand: “They took us to the end, they took us to a dark place. It shows what kind of team they are, to fight with a man down from early in the game. They put us under so much pressure.

“We lost our hooker in the early part of the game and had to adjust … somehow we found a way.”

“I think experience pulled them through,” Springboks head coach Jacques Nienaber said of his players. “They are an amazing bunch of guys, they are all warriors and they all love South Africa.”

“I’m proud of our guys,” New Zealand head coach Ian Foster said. “To go down to that red card so early and fight our way back and give ourselves a chance is pretty special. To get within a whisker of pulling it off is heartbreaking.

“We have to give it to South Africa, they are a quality team. They have had a few close victories in this tournament and are a different class. It’s special for them but it equally hurts for us.”

New Zealand captain Sam Cane said he was “extremely gutted and disappointed. First of all that the guys had to play with 14 men for the last 50-odd minutes. The courage they showed was incredible, the whole team are absolute warriors. Well done to South Africa. They have had a heck of a tough road to the final and they have shown time and again they have a way to win.”

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