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South Africa win their second rugby World Cup

October 21, 2007 08:12 IST

South Africa won the rugby World Cup for the second time on Saturday when they beat defending champions England 15-6 in a dour, defence-dominated final.

The Springboks, who won on home soil in 1995 when they beat New Zealand after extra time in the only other tryless final, were always on top in a game where the only real fireworks came when captain John Smit hoisted the Webb Ellis Cup in front of 80,000 fans in the Stade de France.

Percy Montgomery kicked four penalties and Francois Steyn one as South Africa joined Australia as the only team to win the trophy twice.

The match was a disappointing end to the most entertaining of the six World Cups to date but South Africa coach Jake White was not about to apologise.

"It just shows you how tough World Cups are," he said. "I always knew we had to play to win it, they were not going to give it to us. I always said defence wins World Cups."

"It hasn't even sunk in yet but to see the president of our country sitting on the players' shoulders holding the World Cup...is something to be really proud of."

Jonny Wilkinson, England's match-winner in Sydney four years ago, kicked a penalty each side of halftime but the outgoing champions could have few complaints about the result.

"Congratulations to South Africa who were the best side over the whole tournament," said England coach Brian Ashton. 

England had looked down and out when they were thrashed 36-0 by South Africa in the pool stage but rediscovered their self-belief and can go home with their heads held high.

IMPERIOUS LINEOUT

"This World Cup has been a fantastic adventure for us in many ways. I'm extremely proud of my players," added Ashton, who now expect an extension to his contract, which runs out in December.

South Africa were efficient in every department. Their lineout, always a strength, was imperious and kept them on top throughout. They had a perfect return from 13 of their own throws, won seven of England's 26 and disrupted several others.

Three Montgomery penalties gave South Africa a 9-3 halftime lead but the key moment came two minutes after the restart.

England centre Mathew Tait for once found a gap in the Springbok defence and after evading several tackles was brought down short.

Winger Mark Cueto, recalled to the team for the final for injured Josh Lewsey after missing the last two matches, then seemed to go over in the corner under pressure from Danie Rossouw .

Wilkinson began thinking about the conversion that would have put England 10-9 ahead but after a lengthy deliberation the television match official Stuart Dickinson decided the winger's foot had been in touch before he grounded the ball.

Wilkinson kicked his second penalty immediately afterwards but Montgomery's fourth seven minutes later and a long-range effort from Steyn after an hour gave the Springboks a comfortable cushion. 

England fullback Jason Robinson, playing his final game of professional rugby, limped off the field six minutes into the second half and, although the holders had the lion's share of possession, they rarely looked like breaching the determined Springbok defence.

The same cannot be said of the Stade de France security, however. On one occasion a fan ran on to the pitch and almost joined a ruck before the slow-moving stewards eventually removed him while another got within a few metres of the trophy after running on during the presentation ceremony.

The tournament will be brought to an official close on Sunday with a farewell dinner, when the International Rugby Board will name their player of the year.

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