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South Africa win Rugby World Cup
The Springboks win their second world title with a gritty 15-6 victory over England.
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2007 22:04 GMT


South Africa celebrate their second
Rugby World Cup title [GALLO/GETTY]

South Africa won their second Rugby World Cup title with a hard-fought 15-6 win over defending champions England in a dour final where all points came from penalty kicks at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis.
Percy Montgomery, Springboks full-back, kicked four penalties with 20-year-old centre Francois Steyn booting one, allowing South Africa to put their hands on the Webb Ellis Trophy for the first time since winning it on home soil in 1995.
"It's incredible," said Bryan Habana, South Africa winger.
 
"Our president (Thabo Mbeki) is here.
 
"It's been an incredible seven weeks and we really appreciate the support we have received here."
 
Despite holding their own for most of the game in both defence and kicking duels, England could not avenge the humiliating 36-0 loss to South Africa in the pool stage five weeks ago.
 
They once again displayed grit in the forwards with the determined scrummaging and defence that saw them through the quarters and semi-final, but could only get into good enough field position for two penalties from fly-half Jonny Wilkinson.
 

"It's been an incredible seven weeks and we really appreciate the support we have received here."

Bryan Habana,
South Africa winger

As the match wore on, and with South Africa out to a nine point lead, England tried in vain to spin the ball wide but looked well out of their depth when diverting from their tight, forward-based game plan.
 
"We can't fault effort and the heart," said Martin Corry, England forward.
 
"It's a shame that all that spirit counts for nothing. We gave it everything but it didn't go to plan.
 
"We are immensely disappointed and it's heartbreaking."
 
England's frustration was summed up when Wilkinson attempted a long-range drop-goal with minutes remaining when what his side really needed was a converted try.
 
Celebrations in South Africa
 
In Johannesburg, Al Jazeera's Haru Mutasa was amongst South African rugby supporters both old and new when the full-time whistle blew.
 
Even those who knew little about the game of rugby were out in force, spurring their team on to World Cup glory.
 
"It feels fantastic, it's like a spirit being lifted," ecstatic fans told Al Jazeera.
 
Rugby is predominantly played by white people in South Africa, but it is hoped that with the success of a multi-cultural team, including try-scoring superstar Habana, the sport will go through a transformation and become popular with all colours.
 
"Habana is our hero, and this win shows transformation within the team," the fans added.
 
"It's not just a white man's sport, it's a rainbow nation sport.
 
"They were not only representing the nation, but the whole of Africa."
 
Cueto's close-call
 
England's Mark Cueto is ruled to have gone into
touch before grounding the ball [GALLO/GETTY]
England did get closest to scoring an elusive try when Mark Cueto, in the side for the injured Josh Lewsey, got the ball across the line but was ruled to have put his leg into touch after a last-gasp covering tackle by South Africa Number 8 Danie Rossouw.
 
It was an agonisingly close call, with the video referee taking plenty of time to deliberate before ruling 'no try'.
 
Montgomery opened the scoring with his first penalty in the seventh minute when England centre Mathew Tait did not release the ball after being tackled, before Wilkinson equalised after Bryan Habana did not roll away from a tackle.
 
However Montgomery quickly restored the deficit after Lewis Moody, in an offside position, needlessy aimed a cynical kick at Butch James.
 
With both sides seemingly comfortable fielding endless successions of kicks, and physical blanket-defences mopping up most darting forwards drives, the game needed a spark from one individual.
 
Steyn, the second-ever youngest player in a World Cup final, almost provided that with the first decent break of the game, side-stepping three England defenders before Wilkinson hauled the centre down with a fine tackle.
 
Hands in the ruck by prop Andrew Sheridan late in the first half gifted Montgomery a third penalty and South Africa a 9-3 lead at the break.
 
Springboks wrap it up
 

Captain John Smit, left, and coach Jake White
with the Webb Ellis trophy [GALLO/GETTY]

The second half started in dramatic fashion, with an excellent Mathew Tait break leading to Cueto's close-call in the corner, before Wilkinson claimed a consolation penalty to close the gap to 9-6 after the Springbok backs were ruled offside.
 
England's continued ill-discipline, this time by Corry with hands in the ruck, was again punished by a fourth Montgomery penalty after another strong break by Steyn.
 
The youngster then made amends for an earlier missed long-range penalty with a successful 47-metre shot at goal after obstruction in the England backs with just under 20 minutes to go.
 
South Africa were then content to play for field position, clearing their lines with some long range kicks and swarming over any English attack in the same manner that saw them progress through the seven-week, 20-nation World Cup undefeated and as deserved champions.
 
"A massive win for us. All credit to England, a lot of people expected them not to be as competitive as they were tonight," Jake White, jubilant South Africa coach, told ITV.
 
"It just shows you how tough World Cups are. I always knew we had to play to win it, they were not going to give it to us.
 
"It's important for our country and I think everyone back home is rejoicing, and all credit to the players, they have been fantastic ambassadors for South African rugby over the last four years."
Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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