Cheslin Kolbe’s magic sealed South Africa‘s victory over England to secure a third Rugby World Cup for his nation.
A war of attrition broke out immediately, which suited South Africa’s fearsome defence. Kyle Sinckler, Lodewyk De Jager and Mbongeni Mbonambi all succumbed to injury, demonstrating the brutality of the occasion.
Handre Pollard’s boot outdid Owen Farrell’s, nudging the Springboks towards a 12-6 lead at the break.
A tense game was broken open late when Lukhanyo Am and Makazole Mapimpi combined smartly for the latter to go over before the electric Cheslin Kolbe made the game safe with a solo effort fitting of winning any final.
Here are five things we learned from the Rugby World Cup 2019 final:
Brutality sees Sinckler dream over before it even begun
The 30 men on the pitch realised a dream as the first whistle sounded but for Kyle Sinckler it lasted just a couple of minutes before a devastating clash left him unconscious.
Sinckler ran into Maro Itoje’s shoulder while attempting to tackle Makazole Mapimpi; the lights went out before he even hit the turf.
A sickening blow for one of Eddie Jones’s star men and a damning reminder of how quickly it can all be over.
Lodewyk De Jager suffered the same fate after barely 20 minutes with a shoulder injury, as both sides bludgeoned each other throughout a ferocious opening half that saw players dropping like flies as hooker Mbongeni Mbonambi stumbled off for an HIA.
Sinckler trudges off after suffering a concussion (AP)
Sprinkboks defence signals addition through subtraction
The Springboks’s defence once again proved a compelling watch, absorbing tremendous hits as England rallied towards the end of the first half.
A penalty advantage saw England go for broke, punishing the Boks with 25 gruelling phases.
Billy Vunipola picked up speed, smashing into the South African wall like a truck. Substitutes Malcolm Marx and Francois Mostert acclimatised immediately, combining to slam Vunipola to the turf for a territorial loss.
South Africa had survived and while Owen Farrell slotted the penalty, it was clearly a triumph for Rassie Erasmus’s side.
South Africa wrap up Sam Underhill (Getty)
Brave Jones blinks first in chess match
Eddie Jones was not prepared to allow the game to unravel and get out of reach after the break, implementing a brave change as George Kruis replaced Courtney Lawes to provide assistance to the scrum and line-out.
Kruis immediately impacted the game at the line-out but Rassie Erasmus was not far behind his counterpart, sending on the bulky Steven Kitshoff and Vincent Koch for Tendai Mtawarira and Frans Malherbe.
The swift double change delivered an immediate hit to England much like the stunning effect of a prize fighter’s jab. England’s pack was shoved back to earn another penalty as South Africa’s lead grew.
Eddie Jones looks on in Yokohama (Getty)
Cole exacerbates England ill discipline
In a tense affair, mistakes were always going to be punished and leave a demoralising effect in the aftermath.
While there were several culprits for England, Dan Cole emerged as a source of relief for the Springboks, cutting short England momentum.
A liability at times, Handre Pollard gleefully accepted his gifts to keep England at arm’s length throughout this contest.
CheslinKolbe celebrates his score (Getty)
South Africa playmakers break game open to seal glory
In an attritional contest that was short on craft and ingenuity, Lukhanyo Am and Makazole Mapimpi combined in a delightful move to break the game open.
First the clever little chip from Mapimpi before Am gathered, slipping the ball back into the path of his teammate to go over and shatter England’s resistance, leaving them a mountain to climb in the closing stages.
England will bemoan a possible forward pass, yet TMO deprived them of any respite, and Cheslin Kolbe’s explosive solo effort made the game safe.
The South African wing danced out wide before tearing a hole in the England defence, thumping the ball down for the score and sparking wild celebrations from Yokohama to Johannesburg.