South Africa celebrate
South Africa celebrate

'Dullest game ever': Cup semi slammed

South Africa have sealed a World Cup final date with England after outlasting Wales 19-16 in a dour semi-final affair that had both nations biting their fingernails.

It means Wales will face New Zealand for third place on Friday before South Africa and England play off for the Webb Ellis Cup.

It was a tough slog from the outset for both teams with plenty of kicking as field position was the name of the game with the goalkickers working overtime.

The 19-16 result was a dour affair with two tries breaking the drudgery midway through the second half as the teams played out a tactical game.

It definitely lived up to the teams' expectations throughout the week.

Kicking was the name of the game between South Africa and Wales.
Kicking was the name of the game between South Africa and Wales.

"It won't be the prettiest game in the world," Wales coach Warren Gatland said Friday before the game.

Both teams don't play the most exciting rugby with South Africa playing a physical game, aiming for a dominant set piece and a disciplined kick-and-chase game while Wales also play a basic, low-risk style under Gatland.

The fans were quick to note their frustration and despite a close game.

Former Wallabies skipper George Gregan told Fox Sports "It's a game for the purists".

Early in the second half, former Wallaby Rod Kafer added that "the game is there to be taken, whoever wants to actually run with the ball and get past two or three phases".

He added through the second half that "I don't know how many purists would love this sort of stuff".

South Africa's Handre Pollard scored 14 points to steer Rassie Erasmus' team to a hard-fought 19-16 victory over Wales in Yokohama on Sunday.

Pollard nervelessly kicked the decisive penalty with four minutes to go as the tense game threatened to go to extra time with the scores locked at 16-16.

"We're in the final of the World Cup... but that's only half way there. We'd love to win the World Cup," Erasmus said.

"We play a class England team in the final now but we're there. We've got a a chance now and we might go all the way. You never know."

It was a true battle of the boot as the 1995 and 2007 World Cup champions ground out a victory that consigned Wales to their third tournament semi-final defeat after previous losses in 2011 and 1987.

South Africa celebrate
South Africa celebrate

The two teams played out a dreadful first half of rugby dominated by turgid set-piece, crash balls and aerial combat as both sides kicked the leather off the ball.

There was none of the verve shown by England in their gripping 19-7 victory over New Zealand on Saturday, but the slowed rhythm suited the Springboks.

Locked at 9-9 early in the second half, centre Damian de Allende finally broke the try-scoring deadlock with a stunning individual effort.

The Bok centre shrugged off a weak challenge by Dan Biggar and fended off Owen Watkin and Tomos Williams for a fine individual five-pointer that Pollard converted.

With 20 minutes to play Wales spurned a shot at goal to go for deep lineout. The maul was thwarted but the Welsh went through multiple phases and were eventually awarded another penalty in front of the posts, electing to go for the scrum.

The bold decision, made to gasps from the crowd, paid off as Ross Moriarty managed to get the ball to Tomos Williams who fed Jonathan Davies, the centre's instantaneous pass finding Josh Adams, who crossed in the corner for his sixth try of this World Cup.

Halfpenny hit the conversion to put the scores level and with Wales suddenly in the ascendancy.

But Rhys Patchell and Pollard both missed with ambitious drop-goal attempts before the latter kicked his crucial fourth penalty to eliminate Wales and set up a final against England on Saturday.