Rugby World Cup 2015: Semifinal - South Africa v New Zealand
All Blacks fight back to reach final
PA Sport
October 24, 2015
Date/Time: Oct 24, 2015, 16:00 local, 15:00 GMT
Venue: Twickenham Stadium, London
New Zealand 20 - 18 South Africa
Attendance: 80090  Half-time: 7 - 12
Tries: Barrett, Kaino
Cons: Carter 2
Pens: Carter
Drops: Carter
Pens: Lambie, Pollard 5

New Zealand wrestled the right to defend their World Cup title by grinding past South Africa in a 20-18 semifinal victory in the driving Twickenham rain.

The Webb Ellis Cup holders squeezed the life out of South Africa through a territorial masterclass, with Jerome Kaino and Beauden Barrett claiming crucial tries.

Handre Pollard slotted five penalties with Patrick Lambie posting another late strike but the All Blacks still edged home, Dan Carter landing a drop-goal among 10 points with the boot.

South Africa boss Heyneke Meyer branded New Zealand "the best team that has ever played the game" in the build-up to a seismic World Cup semifinal clash at Twickenham.

All Blacks boss Steve Hansen laughed off the compliment from close friend Meyer as mind games, with defending-champions New Zealand seeking a record 13th consecutive World Cup win.

Joe Moody replaced the injured Wyatt Crockett in New Zealand's front-row, while Lood de Jager was fit to start at lock for the Springboks.

South Africa thundered New Zealand off their opening stride, centres Damian De Allende and Jesse Kriel both making telling early breaks.

Dan Carter's wayward punt out on the full gifted South Africa field position, and Pollard opened the scoring from the tee after New Zealand infringed at a maul.

No sooner had South Africa taken the lead though than the All Blacks hit back, Kieran Read throwing a basketball pass to Jerome Kaino to scoot in for a try in the right corner.

Carter slotted the touchline conversion at the second time of asking, handed a reprieve after Bryan Habana was pulled up for chasing the kick down prematurely.

South Africa 18-20 New Zealand (Australia only)

New Zealand edge into World Cup final

Pollard hit back immediately with his second penalty though, to leave the All Blacks leading 7-6 after 10 minutes.

Carter failed to prise South Africa apart with two defence-turning grubbers, the Springboks holding out despite struggling to clear their lines.

Habana leapt highest to a Pollard bomb, but South Africa could not work JP Pietersen through first to a grubber of their own.

Play came back for a penalty however, with Pollard slotting his third goal to wrestle South Africa a 9-7 lead to open the second quarter.

Ma'a Nonu lost the ball in contact, then Brodie Retallick followed suit, South Africa gaining defensive joy from shutting down the playmaking lock's link routes to New Zealand's midfield.

The All Blacks continued to squeeze the territory but somehow Carter struck a regulation penalty against the post.

New Zealand pressed once more, but a penalty for the All Blacks was reversed when Television Match Official George Ayoub spotted Joe Moody wrestling Duane Vermeulen out of a ruck round his neck.

South Africa lost their second lineout to invite pressure again but quickly won a choke-tackle turnover. Then Tendai Mtawarira forced Owen Franks into conceding a scrum penalty.

The Springboks lost their third lineout and feared yet more All Blacks control, only for Carter to continue his muddled afternoon, knocking on when flailing at a loose pass.

Kaino then conceded a brainless penalty, purposely playing the ball from the wrong side of a ruck, and was duly sin-binned for his deliberate act.

Pollard then posted the penalty that pushed South Africa 12-7 to the good. Somehow South Africa had soaked up endless New Zealand pressure to sneak a five-point lead into the break.

New Zealand kept the Springboks pinned into their own half again after the restart, the defending champions continuing to control the territory.

That dominance yielded a drop-goal for Carter, New Zealand making light of Kaino's sin bin to cut South Africa's lead to two points.

Habana was penalised for pushing Nehe Milner-Skudder in a race for a loose ball, the Springbok flyer perhaps harshly treated with the All Black seeming to obstruct his line.

Kaino returned to the fray with the All Blacks failing to lose any ground during their 10-minute period down to 14 men.

Julian Savea failed to collect Carter's smart grubber as New Zealand turned the screw, but then the All Blacks struck.

Schalk Burger knocked on carrying into contact, and New Zealand finally obliged with their second try. Nonu cut inside to out, dragging in two defenders and sending replacement Beauden Barrett home in the left corner.

Carter's conversion pushed New Zealand into a 17-12 lead, leaving the ragged South Africa facing 10 minutes without Habana.

The Toulon wing was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on in the build-up to Barrett's try, only serving to exacerbate South Africa's uphill struggle.

Pollard posted a fifth penalty after South Africa again battered New Zealand's scrum, but that was quickly cancelled out by Carter's own three points from the tee.

South Africa battled to win a kickable penalty, only for replacement lock Victor Matfield to be pinged for an illegal neck grab.

Suddenly from a chance to cut the All Blacks' lead to two points, the Springboks were back under the pump in their own 22.

Habana, back in action after his yellow card, was first to a grubber to thwart the All Blacks however, allowing the Springboks to clear their lines.

Kieran Read was then penalised for offside at a lineout maul, handing replacement fly-half Patrick Lambie a first shot at goal.

Pollard had nailed everything off the tee, and his understudy soaked up the pressure to cut New Zealand's lead back to just two points.

Sam Cane then lost the ball in contact for the All Blacks, and in a flash the Boks forced a lineout midway inside New Zealand's 22.

The Springboks spilled possession at a ruck however, before New Zealand stole a lineout. The driving rain was causing multiple handling errors for both sides, but New Zealand resumed their territorial dominance at the death.

Carter lined up for another drop-goal, but dummied the kick and sent Barrett through the line, only for Cane to knock on.

Jerome Kaino scores the opening try of the semifinal in the fifth minute © Getty Images
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