Leinster and Glasgow Warriors both ran in 50 points as they claimed emphatic Pro14 victories over the Dragons and Southern Kings respectively.

Group A leaders Leinster have made a fantastic start to the season and continued their fine form with a 50-15 triumph at the RDS Arena to make it five wins from five.

Michael Bent started things off early for Leinster, who never looked likely to relinquish their lead over the Dragons, which stood at 19-8 by half-time.

Harry Byrne – on his first Leinster start – also got in on the act, with the fly-half also kicking five conversions, with tries from Dave Kearney, Ronan Kelleher and James Lowe setting the stage for Hugh O'Sullivan's double to complete the rout.

Glasgow, meanwhile, will be hoping their 50-0 demolition of Southern Kings can kick-start what has been an indifferent campaign so far.

Warriors coach Dave Rennie has been identified by New Zealand as a possible replacement for Steve Hansen, but three defeats out of four matches had left Glasgow languishing in the lower reaches of Group A.

Rennie's side responded in force, however, running in five tries in the first half before adding a further three – including a penalty try – after the restart as their South African opponents wilted. 

Behind Leinster in the Group A standings are Ulster, who came from behind to overcome lowly Zebre 22-7 in Friday's other match.

Kieran Read's international career came to an end on Friday, as the New Zealand captain led the All Blacks to a 40-17 triumph over Wales in the Rugby World Cup bronze match.

Having announced his decision to retire from Test rugby in March, Read would have been hoping to go out on a high by taking his side to an unprecedented third successive World Cup triumph.

However, a semi-final defeat at the hands of England – who will face South Africa for the Webb Ellis Cup on Saturday – meant Read had to settle for third place on his swansong.

Here, with the help of Opta, we take a look at some of the best facts from a glittering career.

127 - Read's 127 caps for the All Blacks place him third in New Zealand history. His predecessor as captain, Richie McCaw, tops the list on 148.

52 - Read played 52 of his Tests as skipper and was the 66th captain of the side. Only McCaw (110) made more appearances as captain of the All Blacks.

148 - New Zealand's skipper has made 148 carries in World Cups, the eighth-most of any player in the tournament’s history. Fifty of those carries came in the 2019 tournament.

5 - Read (107 wins) is one of only five players to win 100 Test matches, along with fellow All Blacks McCaw, Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock and Sam Whitelock.

19 - His run of 19 consecutive victories as All Blacks captain from 2012 to 2016 is a record.

26 - McCaw is the only forward from a tier-one nation to have scored more international tries than Read, shading it by 27 to 26.

157 - Read has made 157 tackles in World Cup action, the sixth-most of any player in the tournament's history.

69 - His tally of 69 tackles during New Zealand's 2019 World Cup campaign was the most of any All Blacks player. He also made 20 during his final appearance against Wales - his previous best in a World Cup game was 14 against Ireland in the quarter-finals.

6 - With six assists, Read has set up more tries than any other forward in World Cups, while he also scored three tries of his own in his appearances at the global tournament.

Iain Balshaw says England are yet to peak as they prepare to do battle with South Africa in the Rugby World Cup final on Saturday.

Eddie Jones' side dethroned New Zealand with a magnificent performance at International Stadium Yokohama last weekend, setting up a showdown with the Springboks seven days later.

The Red Rose are favourites to lift the Webb Ellis Cup for the second time after dominating the two-time defending champions.

Balshaw, part of the squad for England's only World Cup triumph in Australia 16 years ago, believes there is more to come from the current crop ahead of the biggest game of their lives.

He told Omnisport: "I'm not sure exactly what the average age of the England squad is, but I'd guess around 27, and the majority are coming into their prime.

"We've seen young players like Sam Underhill and Tom Curry come in and be outstanding and they have years ahead of them, they will only get better.

"I think these are such exciting times for English rugby, not only looking at the players who are out in Japan, but also those who did not make the squad and the strength in depth there is.

"There is great talent in the Premiership and academies, the game really is in great shape in England."

Balshaw said England must match the Springboks' physicality and be prepared to mix up their game if they are to emulate the class of 2003.

The jet-heeled former back added: "You've got to meet fire with fire. You have to be prepared for that big first collision and make sure you execute the plans that have been put in place.

"England have done that really well so far, they have been so well drilled and been expansive, but if they need to win playing boring rugby, then so be it. When you get into a final, winning is all that matters."

Phil Vickery says England must come out all guns blazing to prevent South Africa's 'Bomb Squad' from detonating their dreams of lifting the Rugby World Cup.

England are favourites to be crowned champions for a second time in Yokohama on Saturday after dethroning New Zealand with one of the great World Cup performances last weekend.

Eddie Jones' side can expect a massive battle against the ferocious Rugby Championship holders, who have the strength in depth to be able to bring fearsome forwards - christened the 'Bomb Squad' - off the bench.

Vickery, a World Cup winner 16 years ago before captaining his country in a defeat to South Africa in the 2007 final, warned England must use their full artillery and execute plans to perfection to ensure it is mission accomplished.

The former skipper told Omnisport: "South Africa are not going to do anything that England won't be expecting from them. They are going to be ultra-physical and confrontational, it's going to be a massive battle. 

"England are capable of winning that battle, no doubt about it, but if you'd have given me £100 before the tournament to back a winner, I would have put it on South Africa. It can't really come as a surprise they are in the final, they are the champions of the Southern Hemisphere. 

"Yes, they may not be playing spectacular rugby, but they are playing winning rugby and that is all that matters in a World Cup.

"England have the firepower, we have seen that in their incredible win over the All Blacks, but so do South Africa.

"We have to take them on physically, there is no avoiding that, but it is important we move them around and try to break the game up. Opportunities will come if they can do that and keep their discipline. 

"If England can go out and play with the same intensity they did against the All Blacks, that will be hard for any team to live with."

Vickery believes England's big-game experience should ensure they can handle the pressure and the former prop urged them to grasp an opportunity that can change their lives forever.

"There are guys who have played in Grand Slam deciders, a Lions Test series, European finals, et cetera. They know all about how to handle the big occasion." he added.

"The lovely thing they have ahead of them is a life-changing opportunity. Their names can be forever etched in history if they can win on Saturday. 

"They will have millions of people who are with them for every collision, every lineout, every scrum - looking back, it's amazing to think you are involved in something like that and I'm excited for them."

Rugby World Cup finalists South Africa and England are represented in nominations for World Rugby's Player of the Year award.

With the shortlists for the Coach of the Year and Team of the Year awards having been announced on Thursday, World Rugby revealed the six nominees for the individual men's award on Friday.

South Africa's Pieter-Steph du Toit and Cheslin Kolbe – who has overcome an injury to feature in Rassie Erasmus' line-up for Saturday's final – are the two Springboks up for the accolade.

Tom Curry is England's sole representative, with the 21-year-old having started in 13 of 14 Tests for Eddie Jones' side this year.

Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones – his country's most-capped player – is also included, as is New Zealand star Ardie Savea.

The final spot is taken by Joe Taufete'e of the United States, who became the most prolific try scorer in front-row history when he went over for a hat-trick against Uruguay.

Ireland's Johnny Sexton won the 2018 award, having ended Beauden Barrett's two-year spell as the world's best player.

Like the Coach and Team of the Year awards, the winner of the Player of the Year accolade will be confirmed on Sunday in Tokyo.

Steve Hansen lauded the leadership of Kieran Read after New Zealand sent their outgoing coach and captain on their way with a 40-17 demolition of Wales in the Rugby World Cup bronze match.

The All Blacks showed little mercy as they responded to their semi-final defeat to England in style on Friday, dispatching Warren Gatland's Six Nations champions with ease to claim third place.

Ben Smith – also playing in his final Test – starred with two tries as the deposed world champions cruised in Tokyo.

Read, as he has throughout his glorious spell as captaincy, led the charge and Hansen, who has won 93 of his 107 Tests as All Blacks coach, singled out the 34-year-old as being the key factor in New Zealand's impressive response.

"Reado led really, really well this week. He's a great leader but I think this week, he needs to take a bow because he was hurting probably more than most," Hansen told a news conference.

"We saw that earlier in the week, but he put his own personal feelings to the side and knew this team had to get up.

"You sit there and see the performance they put in and you can be nothing but proud of it and I'm sure there are lots of New Zealanders and All Blacks fans all over the world that will be proud of what they did today."

Read insisted he was always going to savour his final appearance in the famous black jersey, even though New Zealand's failure to win an unprecedented third successive World Cup means the end to his international career is a bittersweet one.

"It's been a great day. I've tried to really make sure I stay in the moment and enjoy this day," said Read, who will continue his career in Japan with Toyota Verblitz.

"My emotions at the start of the week, I was able to get them all out of there, so today was about the process, trying to play well and soak it up and enjoy the occasion.

"I just love playing with this team and for my family to come out there at the end and share this special moment, it was great and I'll hold these memories for a long time.

"I look back at this World Cup and it'll take me a little bit of time to get over, but in the end I'll come back with some fond memories and remember today."

Warren Gatland said it would break his heart if Wales go "back into the doldrums" after his long reign ended with a 40-17 defeat to New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup bronze final.

Gatland will return to his native New Zealand to take charge of the Chiefs after spending 12 years as head coach of the Six Nations Grand Slam champions.

But it was the All Blacks who gave their own outgoing head coach, Steve Hansen, a victory in his final match at the helm in the third-place play-off at Tokyo Stadium on Friday.

Gatland departs as Wales' greatest coach, and the British and Irish Lions boss is desperate for his replacement Wayne Pivac to be successful in a new era.

Asked about his emotions during his Wales swansong, Gatland said: "It's something I'd prepared myself for and then you start thinking about the next challenges in life.

"I really hope, for what we have achieved in the last 10 or 12 years, we have earned respect and put some respect back into Wales as an international team and the new coaches come in and continue to build on that.

"Because I think, [with] what we've achieved, it would break my heart if Wales went back into the doldrums."

He added: "There is an opportunity for the new group to come in and build on what we've created and improve on that.

"You know how tough it is to win a Six Nations. It's not to be greedy and expect to win it every year, but it's going and performing well in the Six Nations and continuing to get a few Six Nations titles along the way and make sure we are as competitive as we can be against the other top nations.

"I think we have been, and I want Wales to continue to build on that."

Gatland felt the challenge of facing the All Blacks just five days after a semi-final loss to South Africa was a lot to ask for his injury-hit squad.

"It was obvious to me, just watching the first half, that five-day turnaround after having played South Africa - and losing four players in that game - some players definitely struggled with the quick turnaround." said the 56-year-old.

"But I thought the bench gave us impetus when they came on, it was good and I'm pleased with that. But no complaints about the result, I thought the All Blacks deserved to win."

Steve Hansen was left to rue "one bad day" but expressed his pride after his New Zealand reign ended with a 40-17 drubbing of Wales in the Rugby World Cup bronze final.

The All Blacks scored six tries in an entertaining third-place play-off at Tokyo Stadium on Friday after a week of licking their wounds following a semi-final defeat to England.

Ben Smith claimed a first-half double and had another try ruled out in his final Test, while Ryan Crotty likewise touched down in his New Zealand swansong.

Captain Kieran Read was also among several All Blacks playing their last internationals at the end of Hansen's glorious reign, and the head coach was impressed with the character shown by his side six days after they were dethroned.

"It was just important we came back and honoured the jersey and our fans and get over the disappointment of last week." said Hansen, who has spent 15 years on the New Zealand coaching staff.

"It was a tough old game for both sides and I want to congratulate Wales because they'll be feeling a little bad at the moment.

"All tournament, we've had great defence and played pretty good footy all the way through. One bad day, you lose a game and you miss out, that is what knockout football is about. But I'm really proud of the boys today."

Man of the match Brodie Retallick said the two-time defending champions were desperate to sign off by showing what they are capable of.

"After last week, we wanted to come back and put on a performance we could be proud of and, for all of our supporters, we're thankful to come out with the win." said the lock.

"We had to use that as motivation to come and do what we did tonight. It took a great effort and I'm really proud of what we did tonight."

Ben Smith marked his swansong with a double as New Zealand ended the Steve Hansen era by hammering Wales 40-17 in an entertaining Rugby World Cup third-place play-off.

The All Blacks had been licking their wounds since England shattered their bid to lift the Webb Ellis Cup for an unprecedented third successive time last weekend and responded like champions at Tokyo Stadium on Friday.

Smith, recalled for one final Test before joining Top 14 side Pau, touched down twice in a frantic first half following scores from Joe Moody and Beauden Barrett as the All Blacks turned on the style.

Ryan Crotty, also donning the famous jersey for the last time along with legendary captain Kieran Read, crossed following the interval after the lively Smith had a third ruled out.

Richie Mo'unga claimed New Zealand's sixth try of the night late on to take his points tally to 13 and Read was inspirational in his farewell Test as the two-time defending champions fittingly finished Hansen's glorious reign with a victory

Hallam Amos crossed in the first half and Josh Adams took his tournament-leading try-scoring tally to seven, but the clinical All Blacks sealed a 31rd win in a row over injury-hit Wales in Warren Gatland's last game in charge.

The holders had no answer to a blistering start from England last weekend, but they began on the front foot six days later and Moody took a one-handed pass from a charging Brodie Retallick to go over five minutes in.

Barrett sprinted under the posts all too easily after Aaron Smith's no-look pass left a sluggish Wales defence flat-footed and Mo'unga ​– who missed an early penalty – converted for the second time.

Wales clicked into a gear and Amos showed a sharp turn of foot to finish superbly after a sustained spell of pressure and a Rhys Patchell penalty reduced the deficit to four points.

The Grand Slam winners continued to look vulnerable at the other end, though, and Ben Smith burst down the middle and somehow evaded three tackles and dot down.

The 33-year-old flyer finished clinically again on the stroke of half-time after taking an exceptional whipped pass from his mercurial namesake Aaron, Mo'unga adding the extras expertly from the touchline.

Sonny Bill Williams, also playing what is expected to be his last match for his country, set up the onrushing Crotty for a fifth All Blacks try after Ben Smith was denied a hat-trick due to a knock-on.

The lively Adams dived over from close range at the other end after captain Alun Wyn Jones came off to a standing ovation in what is almost certainly his final World Cup appearance.

New Zealand were not at their fluent best in the second half, but Mo'unga had the final say by crashing over four minutes from time to round off an emphatic win.

The Rugby World Cup final is upon us. England and South Africa will face off in Yokohama on Saturday, with the winner lifting the Webb Ellis Cup.

Both sides have enjoyed fantastic runs to this stage, with England winning every match they have played at the finals and dominating two-time defending champions New Zealand in the last four.

The Springboks were beaten by the All Blacks in their opening match but have recovered in impressive fashion, closing on a third title.

With the help of Opta data, we look at the key numbers ahead of what promises to be an enthralling final between two worthy winners.
 

2 - England have won back-to-back Tests against South Africa, but their record against the Springboks had previously been nothing to shout about. They managed just one victory in their prior 15 meetings.

33 - Eddie Jones' team will need to be at it from the off on Saturday. South Africa having gone on to win 33 of their 35 World Cup matches in which they have led at the break.

89 - Owen Farrell needs just 11 points to become the second player to reach 100 World Cup points for England after Jonny Wilkinson, who accumulated 277.

0 - South Africa won the previous two World Cup finals they appeared in, but both victories came without either side scoring a try.

1 - If England beat Rassie Erasmus' side, they will become the first team to beat Australia, New Zealand and South Africa in a single World Cup campaign.

407 - Springbok Damian de Allende is one of only three players to have played more minutes at this tournament than England duo Elliot Daly and Tom Curry, who have each clocked up 400.

3 - The sides have previously met four times in the World Cup, with South Africa coming out on top in three of those matches. Their most recent World Cup meeting came in the 2007 final, which the Springboks won 15-6.

140 - Handre Pollard has scored more points at a World Cup than any other South Africa player, although he is yet to score a try in the competition.

50 - Siya Kolisi is set to earn his 50th Test cap and his 20th as Springboks captain.

98 - South Africa have the best lineout success rate of any side at this World Cup, having only lost one, which came in their semi-final win over Wales.

4 - This will be England's fourth appearance in the final, a joint record alongside Australia and the All Blacks.

27 - Jonny May needs one more try to equal Jason Robinson on 28 for England, the joint-fifth most for England. He has four in six appearances against the Springboks.

Thursday lunchtime was quiet at the Ekupholeni Cocktail Lounge. The clearing up after Wednesday's Ladies' Night was out of the way. Another busy weekend lay ahead.

The Sunday Soul Session - tickets 70 Rand in advance, R80 on the door, R100 with VIP privileges - was looking like selling out. And on Saturday, just like every Saturday, the venue that first flung open its doors three years ago was guaranteed to be heaving.

"Saturdays are always busy," says Tumla Hani, who works at the bar.

The Ekupholeni sits on Skefile Street in Zwide, a largely down-at-heel black township that sits just north of Port Elizabeth.

This is the district where Siya Kolisi grew up in poverty.

Kolisi is now the captain of South Africa's mighty Springboks.

Their first black captain.

Twenty or so years ago he was an impoverished boy, living with his grandmother, and his favourite toy was a brick. Kolisi's vivid imagination meant he got by.

On Saturday he will lead out the Boks in the Rugby World Cup final in Yokohama, Japan, and win his 50th cap. It will be standing room only in the morning at the Ekupholeni.

 

A favourite son of Zwide

A five-minute brisk walk from the Ekupholeni, past rows of rudimentary single-storey homes, sits Emsengeni Primary School, where Kolisi began his formal education. The Dan Qeqe Stadium, where Kolisi launched his rugby life with the African Bombers under-nines, is a similar trot away in the opposite direction. Qeqe, who died in 2005, campaigned passionately during the apartheid era for non-racial sport.

The Lifa & Mafa Butchery, said to be a favourite 'braai' hangout of Kolisi, is in the same neighbourhood. The Zwide Stadium, where a hastily-hired big screen will show Kolisi as the Boks take on England, is not far away.

Kolisi sought out a local tavern to watch the Boks beat England in the 2007 final, he revealed this week, because there was no television at home.

The Ekupholeni might be welcoming in future Bok leaders on Saturday, but in all probability the crowd will be a recognisable older set, eschewing the outdoor screening to share familiar company.

"We're showing the game on our TVs," says Tumla Hani. "The people come to watch the game. There will be lots here. It will be full here. We're always full here on Saturdays anyway, and it will be special."

She expects the atmosphere to be joyous, as it was when South Africa took down Wales in the semi-finals.

Drinks flowed, and even after emotions had been scrambled by the late drama of that match, there was dancing and delirium.

"The singing as well - did you see that?" Tumla asks.

I did, thanks to a Facebook video, which is why I'm calling. The singing was born of pure joy. An impromptu, refreshed South African choir belting out grand hosannas routinely beats the typical English pub trudge through Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.

 

Arriving at a time of change

Kolisi was born on June 16 1991, a day before the apartheid era was officially repealed, and 16 months after Nelson Mandela was freed from Victor Verster Prison in Cape Town after 27 years of incarceration.

Books have been written, and films might follow, about Kolisi's rags-to-riches story.

He tells a story of turning up to Eastern Province junior rugby trials in "silk boxers, because I didn't have shorts". The boy in the strange garb caught the eye, inevitably, and he was soon offered a scholarship to the prestigious Grey High School in Port Elizabeth, which includes the great cricketer Graeme Pollock and former England rugby star Mike Catt among its alumni.

Kolisi, who together with over 90% of Zwide's population has Xhosa as a first language, needed to learn English. On the pitch, his rugby would do the talking, but to fit in at Grey - which he now describes as "the English school" - Kolisi had to buckle down and study.

He has gone from having no command to being one of the most eloquent and erudite English speakers in sport.

Kolisi's mother, who gave birth to him at the age of 16, died when he was still a Grey student.

But by then the boy was growing into a warrior of a man, and despite his grief, Kolisi's rugby potential was being fulfilled. He went to Western Province, played for the Baby Boks and eventually graduated to the Stormers.

 

Born to lead his country

A day before turning 22, Kolisi made his Springboks debut against Scotland. At the age of 25 he was made captain of the Stormers, and a year later the same status was bestowed upon him with the national team.

He is married now, to Rachel, with two children, lives as a devout Christian, and enjoys a lifestyle that bears scant comparison to his childhood years.

Bryan Habana, the now-retired wing superstar, has said a Kolisi-led Springboks winning the World Cup might surpass South Africa's 1995 triumph, when President Mandela presented Francois Pienaar with the Webb Ellis Cup.

Success frequently breeds success, and Kolisi dreams of the day when youngsters from Zwide do not need to leave, as he did, to achieve their potential.

"It'd be so awesome... It's something I think will happen one day," Kolisi said.

His father, Fezakele, is making his first overseas trip to take in the final at first hand.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

My dads are on their way  Utata's first overseas trip - what a time to be alive 

A post shared by Rachel Kolisi (@rachel_kolisi) on 

In Zwide, whether enjoying the warm atmosphere of the Ekupholeni or the outdoor big-screen community party, it matters to the townspeople that the Springboks get the job done on Saturday.

But what matters most for now is that Kolisi, the talisman of the team in green and gold, is proudly one of their own.

England and South Africa are tantalisingly close to glory as they prepare to face off in the Rugby World Cup final.

Ahead of Saturday's much-anticipated showdown in Yokohama, we asked Lewis Moody - a World Cup winner with England in 2003 and a losing finalist against the Springboks four years later - to talk us through what it will take to emerge victorious in rugby's biggest game.

Here is the former flanker's guide to securing World Cup success.

 

'HOW DO YOU KEEP THOSE EMOTIONS IN CHECK?' - GETTING THE MINDSET RIGHT

Players from both sides will try to prepare for the contest as if it is any other game, although Moody acknowledges this is "easier said than done".

"Everyone, including the players, knows what's at stake," said Moody, speaking on behalf of Land Rover, Official Worldwide Partner of Rugby World Cup 2019.

"The hardest thing is keeping your energy in check so you don't burn yourself out, whether that's through anxiety, nerves or excitement. You can sort of play the game in your head and then your body has emotionally played it already. So you've got to keep that composure and unleash it at the start of the game. 

"You have to figure out what works for you, how do you keep those emotions in check? For me, it was going to the cinema the night before a game, completely switching my brain off from anything rugby-related and just having a laugh.

"All the work has been done, you know all the moves, you're fit. It's just about figuring out what mindset you need to be in to deliver on that day and for me it was about being as relaxed as possible. Each player prepares in a different way - and just allowing them to do what's normal for them is key."

 

'FIGHTING A BATTLE IN YOUR OWN BRAIN' - THE AGONY OF THE FINAL HOURS BEFORE KICK-OFF

If the days leading up to the game are tense, the final hours in the lead-up to kick-off present the toughest mental challenge of all.

"Without doubt the worst part for me was the evening before and then the morning of [the game], because that's when the anxiety [is at its highest]," explained Moody.

"You're in your room, all you're thinking about is preparing for the game. Have you got your kit bag ready? Have you got your tracksuit and everything you're going to be wearing? Is it the right stuff? Have you got a spare pair of boots in case one breaks, a spare gumshield? It's just going through this list of things and then going to sleep and hoping you actually get some.

"You just want that time to disappear; you want to be on the pitch. Your comfort zone is when you've crossed that white line and you're right into the thick of it doing what you know. Up until then you can't control anything and your body is just playing tricks.

"Your mind is trying to maintain all those positive moments, the impacts you want to have, but the other half of your mind is allowing the gremlins to creep in. You don't want to be the person who makes the mistake [that costs your team the game]. So you're fighting a battle in your own brain until you cross that white line. That's when it all relaxes and your body just goes into doing what it does, that muscle memory takes over and life becomes simple."
 

'ULTIMATELY IT WILL COME DOWN TO DISCIPLINE'

Amid heightened emotions, maintaining discipline looks sure to be vital, while Moody also feels much will depend on whether South Africa can deny England quick ball at the breakdown.

"Ultimately it will come down to discipline, because it's going to be a tightly fought game," he argued.

"The key for me will be the speed of ball that the forwards can get for the backs and that will come down to the breakdown. New Zealand, for whatever reason, swapped Sam Cane out [in the semi-final] and it meant England had free rein at the breakdown, really. We also had 19 turnovers against the All Blacks, which is an unprecedented number. 

"I think having Tom Curry and Sam Underhill there, who clearly haven't been phased by any of the players they've played against or any of the occasions - if they can boss that breakdown and keep England's momentum going, then that will be decisive.

"They're going to be coming up against some serious units in the South African backline, in [Siya] Kolisi, Pieter-Steph du Toit and [Duane] Vermeulen, who will be doing their utmost to impose themselves on that English triumvirate. It will be a fascinating contest and there's no way in my mind South Africa will allow England the same speed of ball and momentum that they gained on Saturday [in their semi-final win over the All Blacks]."

 

'ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS TURN UP AND DELIVER IN THOSE 80 MINUTES'

England could hardly have performed better in their last-four victory over defending champions New Zealand, as they mixed a stunning defensive display with a slick and composed attacking performance to secure a 19-7 win.

Yet Moody, a veteran of 74 Tests between 2001 and 2011 including three for the British and Irish Lions, does not feel Eddie Jones' side will necessarily need to deliver the same all-round showing on Saturday. 

"It's not about delivering the same performance. It's about delivering the performance that is necessary to beat this opposition," he said.

"Last weekend it was that type of rugby, this week it might be drop goals, penalties, a hard-fought forward battle. It's about doing what it takes to win the match that's in front of you.

"The reality of a final is its one game, all you have to do is turn up and deliver in those 80 minutes. And that's where it can all change.

"We saw it in 2011. New Zealand were far and away the best side in the world that year and yet they only beat France by one point. All of a sudden the pressure and the anxiety came on. Even in '03 we should have beaten Australia by 15-20 points really with the opportunities we had - it just shows how pressure can get to you some times."

 

--- Land Rover is an Official Worldwide Partner of Rugby World Cup 2019.  With over 20 years of heritage supporting rugby at all levels, Land Rover is celebrating what makes rugby, rugby. #LandRoverRugby ---

South Africa stand on the brink of making history when they face England in Saturday's Rugby World Cup final.

The Springboks have already lifted one trophy this year after winning the Rugby Championship in August, and Rassie Erasmus' team are looking to do something that has eluded rivals New Zealand and Australia in the past.

In the previous five years when there has been both a Rugby Championship – or its previous incarnation the Tri Nations – and a World Cup, the winners of the first tournament have subsequently failed to also deliver success on the global stage.

With South Africa in a position to finally end that sequence, we take a look at those who have previously conquered the Southern Hemisphere only to fall short at the World Cup.

 

1999: TRI NATIONS WINNERS – NEW ZEALAND, WORLD CUP WINNERS – AUSTRALIA

The All Blacks won the first two Tri Nations and made it three in four years by thrashing South Africa 28-0, beating Australia 34-15 and claiming another victory over the Springboks.

However, a 28-7 loss to the Wallabies in the final fixture suggested New Zealand were not so invincible...

At the World Cup, the great Jonah Lomu scored eight tries yet France stunned New Zealand 43-31 in the last four, with Australia then winning the final against Les Bleus.

2003: TRI NATIONS WINNERS – NEW ZEALAND, WORLD CUP WINNERS – ENGLAND

Four wins out of four delivered another Tri Nations triumph for New Zealand.

The All Blacks scored 282 points in their four World Cup pool games in Australia too before easing past South Africa 29-9 in the quarter-finals.

But Elton Flatley's accuracy from the tee consigned New Zealand to another semi-final loss and sent Australia back to the final, where Jonny Wilkinson's drop goal in Sydney delivered a famous success for England.

2007: TRI NATIONS WINNERS – NEW ZEALAND, WORLD CUP WINNERS – SOUTH AFRICA

Neither Australia nor South Africa could deny the All Blacks another Tri Nations title in 2007, though it was a Northern Hemisphere nation who would stop their run at the World Cup.

New Zealand led 13-3 in the first half of their quarter-final against France only to suffer another knockout loss to their World Cup nemesis as Yannick Jauzion scored a brilliant converted try 11 minutes from time to seal a 20-18 success.

Defending champions England beat France in the semi-final but Percy Montgomery won the battle of the boots with Wilkinson in the final as South Africa secured their second World Cup.

2011: TRI NATIONS WINNERS – AUSTRALIA, WORLD CUP WINNERS – NEW ZEALAND

In the final Tri Nations before Argentina joined to form the Rugby Championship, Graham Henry's team lost their last two matches as Australia triumphed for the first time in a decade.

The World Cup was hosted in New Zealand and after years of being the nearly men, it was the All Blacks' turn to taste global glory again.

France were their final opponents and, in a tense, low-scoring contest, New Zealand won 8-7.

2015: RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP WINNERS – AUSTRALIA, WORLD CUP WINNERS – NEW ZEALAND

Four years ago, Australia beat the other three nations to win the Rugby Championship, and came out on top of a World Cup pool that included Wales and hosts England.

The Wallabies narrowly saw off Scotland 35-34 and ousted Argentina 29-15 to set up a final with a New Zealand side that had hammered France 62-13 in the last eight.

No team had ever retained the World Cup before but Dan Carter shone on his international farewell to ensure Steve Hansen's side lifted the Webb Ellis Cup again.

Rassie Erasmus has called on South Africa to revive the spirit of 1995 and 2007 and help bring about vital change in their country by landing the Rugby World Cup.

The Springboks coach sends his team out to tackle marginal favourites England in Saturday's final in Yokohama, with a black captain in Siya Kolisi leading the reigning kings of the Rugby Championship.

Erasmus admitted he was "naive" to think the appointment of Kolisi as South Africa's first black rugby union captain was not majorly significant.

But he is not blind to the fact a South African triumph in rugby's biggest match could lift the nation in the way their predecessors also achieved.

South Africa's 1995 World Cup win will always be remembered for Nelson Mandela, the political prisoner who became president in the early post-apartheid years, handing over the trophy to captain Francois Pienaar.

Should Kolisi lift the Webb Ellis Cup, it would be another landmark moment in South Africa's history.

Looking back to the 1995 triumph, Erasmus said: "We know what impact that had for our country.

"We do have some challenges in our country in different levels and different avenues, but rugby is one of the things that for a few minutes - and sometimes when we win for a few hours, days and months - people forget about their disagreements and stop disagreeing for a while and agree.

"I think what we experienced from 2007 and 1995 is that you can fix a lot of things in that time. In South Africa we need that. That is a maximum motivation for us on Saturday.

"We're trying to win for South Africa but not just because of our supporters but because our country has a lot of things we want to fix and we want to help fix that."

Kolisi emerged from a tough upbringing in a township close to Port Elizabeth to lead his country, yet Erasmus, who will step down as coach after the final, missed what appeared obvious to others when making the captaincy appointment.

"I was a bit naive in thinking this would be such a massive thing with him being captain," Erasmus said. "I picked Siya because he was the best-performing Super Rugby captain [for the Stormers]. It caught us both off guard and his game suffered a bit in the first few games."

Injuries have impeded Kolisi, who will win his 50th cap on Saturday, but Erasmus said: "I think he's fighting fit to have a good final."

England are not worrying about life at home as they seek a second World Cup triumph, after the 2003 final win over Australia in Sydney.

Coach Eddie Jones believes his team are showing a "steeliness" about them that bodes well, and despite admitting there is some nervousness in the camp, the former Japan boss says there is also "a nice relaxed feeling".

"We've spent four years getting ready for this occasion," Jones said on Thursday.

He knows South Africa well - his Japan side stunned them at the 2015 World Cup - and says the Springboks are just as clued up on England's strengths and weaknesses.

"The way the game is at the moment and the amount of games international teams play, you know each other pretty well," Jones said.

"They'll know our players, we know their players. We've got a pretty good idea of how they'll play and they'll have a pretty good idea of how we play.

"So it's more about the fact you've got to be at your best on the day rather than familiarity now."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

England - George Ford

Percy Montgomery kicked South Africa to glory in the 2007 final, slotting over four penalties, and there is a suspicion it could come down to precision from the tee again on Saturday. Ford booted four successful penalties against New Zealand in the semi-finals, and England cannot afford to leave points out on the pitch with the trophy in their sights. Ford, and Owen Farrell if called upon, have the big-game credentials to get the job done.

South Africa - Cheslin Kolbe

Flying wing Kolbe missed the semi-final against Wales with an ankle injury, but the Toulouse flyer is back for the big one. He poses a serious threat to England, bringing pace and panache to the party, and in a game that might be effectively settled by one flash of genius, Kolbe would feature high on any list of potential match-winners. As Farrell said on Thursday: "I think it's clear for everyone to see what kind of a threat he is."

KEY OPTA FACTS

- If England win, they will become the first side to beat Australia, New Zealand and South Africa in the same edition of the Rugby World Cup. Only Argentina have previously faced each of the traditional southern hemisphere giants at an edition of the World Cup, losing all three such matches in 2015.

- Both of South Africa's previous Rugby World Cup finals have been try-less affairs (15-12 v New Zealand in 1995, 15-6 v England in 2007).

- South Africa have the best lineout success rate (98 per cent) of any side in the tournament. They had a 100 per cent rate before losing one in their semi-final clash with Wales.

- Owen Farrell needs 11 points to become the second player to reach 100 Rugby World Cup points for England after Jonny Wilkinson (277 points). He averages 10.3 points per game against South Africa (103 in 10 games).

- Manu Tuilagi has scored six tries this year, and no other player in Test rugby has scored as many in 2019 while playing at centre. He has never scored in four previous matches against South Africa, however.

- Makazole Mapimpi already has 13 tries in 13 caps for South Africa, including nine in his last seven appearances.

Steve Hansen has urged his New Zealand side to show their character when they take on Wales in the Rugby World Cup bronze match.

The All Blacks saw their hopes of retaining their title dashed by England in the last four, with Eddie Jones' side recording an impressive 19-7 victory in Yokohama.

While England face South Africa in the final on Saturday, New Zealand's focus is on Wales, with Warren Gatland's Six Nations champions their opponents in Friday's contest to decide who takes third place at this year's tournament in Japan.

It will mark the final matches in charge of their respective teams for both Gatland and Hansen - and the outgoing All Blacks coach is determined to show his squad can come back from a rare defeat and end on a high.

"It's about resetting the button and making sure that we go and have a performance that not only we can be proud of, but every New Zealander around the world and every fan of the All Blacks," Hansen told a news conference.

"The most important thing we can do is play at the highest standard we can play, coach to the highest standard you can coach, or be the best manager you can be.

"Doing that, we show not only ourselves and our team-mates but also our country that we've got some character.

"The most important thing we can do now is show that if your character's tested, you can stand up to it.

"That's the greatest success we can take out of this tournament, the greatest success we can show young people in New Zealand who are aspiring All Blacks or aspiring to be anything. You've got to have character."

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