Charge into the ruck with Rugby World Cup tips for the final in Yokohama. Will England claim their second title or will South Africa snatch a record-equalling third RWC crown?
20:00 (AEDT), Fri 1st Nov @ International Stadium Yokohama
History: Played 42: South Africa 25 V England 15 (2 Draws)
Last meeting: November 3, 2018: England 12 d South Africa 11 at Twickenham
Final thoughts: It’s a 2019 Rugby World Cup final match-up perhaps few saw coming. But keen rivals England and South Africa won’t die wondering in their 80-minute quest to be crowned the new world champions.
After cruising through the pool phase, England have embarked upon a path to potential immortality during the knockouts.
Eddie Jones’ side wiped the floor with Australia in the quarters 40-16, scoring the last 23 points of the match unanswered.
England were rank outsiders in their semi against New Zealand, but they ambushed the reigning champs with one of the all-time great Test performances. Manu Tualagi scored after just two minutes and England were dominant throughout, squeezing the All Blacks into submission with a monumental defensive display. They arguably should have won by more than the final 19-7 scoreline.
After a tough loss to the All Blacks in the opening game, South Africa breezed past their other poolmates and extinguished Japan’s campaign 26-3 in the quarters.
The Springboks then edged Wales 19-16 in the second semi-final – and bored the rest of the rugby world to tears in the process.
England’s only change to their 23 sees Ben Spencer come onto the bench for the injured Willi Heinz. Potent winger Cheslin Kolbe returns for S’busiso Nkosi in the sole change to South Africa’s squad.
South Africa went unbeaten in 12 Tests against England from 2006-14, but England have won three of the last five. The Springboks won a home series against England 2-1 last year, before England eked out a 12-11 win in London.
Both nations are appearing in their first Rugby World Cup final since South Africa downed England 15-6 in the try-less 2007 decider. England also lost to Australia in 1991 and beat the Wallabies in the epic 2003 final. The Springboks won their only other RWC Final against the All Blacks in 1995.
Five of the eight previous Rugby World Cup finals were decided by nine points or less. This promises to be another tight one.
South Africa need to improve markedly on what they produced last week. England will win if they replicate their performance against the All Blacks. The Boks’ engine-room is typically relentless – but England’s forward unit is more than a match for them. England – $1.45 favourites – have the edge in the game-breaking department, possessing more players capable of seizing the big moments.
Backing England is the only way to go here – but it should be a nail-biter.