This is going to be a bit like the bridesmaid following behind the bride – but I just had to get the RWC Final out of my system before I got to the Bronze Final.
In reality of course this came the night before the Final – a match between South Africa and the team that had thrilled many a rugby fan during the tournament – Argentina.
This was my 5th week in a row amongst the Argentinian crowd – they’d been as entertaining as their team! Although (sorry Argentina) their anthem is a little odd, not one I can join in with at least, their singing in support of their team has been second to none I’d say. I’m also pleased to say I managed to join in with a couple of them – I do love a good sing-a-long!
While I’m talking about National Anthems – the South African anthem comes in 3 different languages – I struggle with the first 2, but the English part? In a country that sees so much strife the sentiments are wonderful!
Sounds the call to come together,
And united we shall stand,
Let us live and strive for freedom,
In South Africa our land.
There had been lots of talk about this match not mattering – try telling that to those in the ground. I had a Category A ticket for this one at £175 – and a pretty good view. The Olympic Stadium is a great place to watch rugby, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my visits during the tournament.
Argentina were without 3 key back line players – Juan Martin Hernandez, Marcelo Bosch and importantly Juan Imhoff, it was going to be a big ask for them to beat a determined, experienced Springbok team.
Several of the South Africans were having their last hurrah in the green shirt, not least Victor Matfield who led the team out as captain for the last time. He’s always been a favourite of mine so I was interested to hear from my South African neighbours at the final that they weren’t. It seems his attitude doesn’t go down well! It’ll be interesting to see how he’s perceived when he joins Northampton Saints.
Schalk Burger was another playing his last game in a green jersey – and he wasn’t a popular man with my South African supporting neighbours at the Bronze Final – brothers Emile and Marcel Du Toit – well Marcel in particular felt he was too slow and off his game. Experience is one thing, being slightly past it another.
However it was to be the old heads, mixed in with a young midfield who would go home with the Bronze Medals. Bryan Habana had started the match stating equal with Jonah Lomu for the record number of tries scored in a Rugby World Cup. He was eager to break the record – far too eager! he had several clear cut chances only to lose the ball – it wasn’t to be.
South Africa led by 16 points at half time – through a JP Pieterson try – he scored after scrum half Tomas Cubelli had been sent to the bin in the first 5 minutes for taking a player out off the ball. Handre Pollard who has been immaculate from the Tee converted the try and added another 9 points through penalties. The Argentinians conceded 7 in the first half alone.
Overall Argentina dominated both territory and possession by some way having 63% of the first and 65% of the second. They did get over the line through Juan Pablo Orlandi in the the second half, Nicolas Sanchez, another high performer with the boot converted the try and added both a penalty and a drop goal.
Eben Etzebeth added a try for South Africa, with the conversion being missed, Pollard did convert another penalty however. It was very disappointing to hear boo’s and whistles ringing round the stadium when Pollard took another penalty – this one hit the posts.
The end result was South Africa 24 Argentina 13 – there had been some sparkling play by the South Americans but they just couldn’t make it count against the stalwart South African defence. Another enjoyable match and evening spent in good company.
Getting to the station was a bit of a mission – it’s going to be very interesting to see who the area copes with thousands of football fans!
- Cost of Ticket £175.00