After a journey to Gloucester to watch some Premiership rugby I was relieved that the semi-final of the Rugby World Cup was due to start in Twickenham at 4pm – that meant I was able to have a chilled breakfast and a leisurely journey to the vicinity.
Teddington station was my target – a short train ride to Twickenham in the ‘right’ direction according to my brother, whose house I was staying at after the match. I parked very easily and yes coincided with a train – so arrived in plenty of time for a quick visit to my ‘usual’ – Patisserie Valerie – for a strawberry tart and hot chocolate – I like to live dangerously before a rugby match!
The vibe walking to the ground was great, a lot of very excited fans of both teams with various neutrals like me mixed in. Mt category B seat was behind the posts on the middle tier.
I was quite early so had a good chat with Father and Daughter Barry and Sarah Jacoeson. Avid Springbok fans they were hoping their team would make it to the final. Barry, a doctor knew a few of the players personally so had an extra interest. We had a great chat, it was lovely to see a father and daughter at the match.
My immediate neighbours were All Blacks fans, we had great rugby interaction all the way through the match.
I’m a fan of both national anthems, I have to say the South Africans won that particular singing contest, an impressive display by the crowd. Time for the Haka, one of my favourite rugby traditions, the All Blacks were amazing as always – this time the crowd not so much; there were lots of whistles and shouts – disappointing!
I was unsure of how this match would go, realistically this was the first true test for the All Blacks after a spirited display by Argentina in their opening match. South Africa had been impressive after the trauma of losing to Japan in their own opinion game – that result remains the shock of the tournament.
The South Africans would confront the All Blacks with a physicality they hadn’t encountered in the build up; I felt that the weather would favour the Springboks, pouring rain isn’t conducive to running rugby.
South Africa were awarded a penalty on 6 minutes, Handre Pollard, a real star during the tournament put his team ahead, would his boot be the winning factor?
Very single All Black is capable of running a try in and 3 minutes after the penalty Jerome Kaino leapt over the try line on the wing to touch the ball down, a pretty spectacular try – we had a great view!
We had a delay with the conversion by Dan Carter – his first attempt missed, but Brian Habana had charged the ball way before Carter had moved. Carter wasn’t going to miss twice – he added the extras to stretch the lead to 4.
Richie McCaw – oft maligned All Blacks captain was penalised 30 metres from the New Zealand posts for going offside, yes he does it and yes he gets spotted! Pollard slotted the ball over the posts – we were back to a one point game.
Another Pollard penalty put The Springboks ahead – we had the unusual sight of Carter missing a penalty kick after Schalk Burger decided to smash Ma’a Nonu in a less than legal way! A bad ‘tackle’ it was a shame that Carter failed to capitalise on it.
Moments later we had controversy after JP Pieterson looked to be on his way to a try after intercepting a pass close to the Springbok line. Play was pulled back for a penalty to the All Blacks which was then reversed as the TMO had spotted a neck roll by Joe Moody.
It seemed a bit crazy in the ground, but to be fair the All Blacks knew they were playing to an advantage and were throwing the ball around accordingly – so no drama really.
The All Blacks were looking less than slick and the South African defensive effort was immense – could the final be slipping away from them? Pollard kicked his 4th penalty to take the score to New Zealand 7 South Africa 12 at half time.
The rain was belting down as the 2nd half started – 6 minutes into the half Dan Carter kicked a drop goal from 35 metres out, in a game of small margins those 3 points very much needed for the All Blacks.
Beauden Barrett who’d replaced star winger Nehe Milner-Shudder who was injured after he’d collided with Bryan Habana put his team ahead with a great try after Nonu drew 2 men before he passed to Barrett. Carter’s conversion saw the score go to All Blacks 17 South Africa 12.
South Africa were to add 2 penalties through Pollard and Patrick Lambie and Dan Carter added another for New Zealand. That all added up to a hard fought win for the All Blacks – with the final score standing at New Zealand 20 South Africa 18.
I think it’s fair to say South Africa tested the All Blacks – they didn’t allow them to play the open, running rugby that is their trademark. A low scoring game, it was however a really enjoyable match to witness in the stadium.
I met up with my brother and nephews after the match, we stayed in the scrum bar, not the most comfortable place to be for a vertically challenged non drinker, but it did let the crowds die down. We caught one of the free buses to Richmond to meet up with older brother – Pizza Express was clearly hidden away as it was fairly empty.
We eventually got a train back to Teddington, arriving back in time to watch West Ham beat Chelsea on the recorded Match of The Day – delight all round! We were all heading to Twickenham for semi-final 2 so bed it was!
- Cost of Ticket £320.00