England v South Africa: Springboks will grind out Rugby World Cup final - Rassie Erasmus

Eben Etzebeth
South Africa have won both Rugby World Cup finals they have played, against New Zealand in 1995 and England in 2007
2019 Rugby World Cup final
Venue: International Stadium, Yokohama Date: Saturday, 2 November Time: 09:00 GMT
Coverage: Full commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live, plus live text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app

Coach Rassie Erasmus has promised South Africa will stick to their physical, confrontational style in Saturday's Rugby World Cup final against England.

In their dour semi-final win over Wales the Springboks had the minority share of possession (39%) and territory (38%), but Handre Pollard's boot and their powerful pack were key.

"We're in with a chance," said Erasmus.

"I don't think the final will be won by a very expansive gameplan and wonderful tries. We'll go and grind it out."

Wales coach Warren Gatland warned England they may have peaked too early after a superb semi-final performance proved too good for defending champions New Zealand in the other half of the draw.

"We have seen teams play their final in the semi-final and don't turn up for the final," he said.

"We will see what England do."

Erasmus is anticipating a tactical battle against England with the two sides well aware of each other's strengths and weaknesses following four meetings in 2018.

England's meetings with South Africa with Jones and Erasmus at the helm
DateResultTotal tries
9 June 2018South Africa 42-39 EnglandTen
16 June 2018South Africa 23-12 EnglandFour
23 June 2018South Africa 10-25 EnglandTwo
3 November 2018England 12-11 South AfricaOne

England lost a Test series in South Africa 2-1 in June 2018 before edging a tight contest at Twickenham in November of the same year.

Those encounters began with the teams sharing 10 tries in Johannesburg and finished with only one in their autumn clash, as the trend moved towards lower-scoring contests.

"They're obviously much better than the last time we played them," said Erasmus of England.

"You could see that the way they dismantled New Zealand. We've played England four times in the last 18 months, it's 2-2... we're accustomed to the way they play."

Scrum-half Faf de Klerk echoed his coach's claim that South Africa would not stray far from the template they used against Wales in reaching the final.

"Pretty much the same as tonight, it's going to be a physical, kicking game, they don't like to play out of their half at all," he said.

"I think it's going to come down to little moments, if you get an opportunity to score you need to use it and, if not, you're probably going to end up losing that game."

Asked if South Africa would take their chances to win the game, De Klerk responded with a resounding "Yes!" before being led away by a press officer.

However Lood de Jager admitted the Springboks, who beat New Zealand by two points in Wellington in September 2018 before taking a draw on their return in July, were taken aback by the relative comfort of England's 19-7 win over the All Blacks.

"The margin of victory surprised us a bit," the Sale-bound second row said.

"I always thought it was going to be 50-50 because England are a quality side, but the way they beat the All Blacks was quite comprehensive; it was a great performance.

"I think England are the favourites and on their performance last night they deserve to be but, for us, we have a foot in the door and anything can happen.

"If you've watched finals in the past, it's always been tough. Look at 2011. Nobody gave France a chance and they almost beat the All Blacks in New Zealand."


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