TOKYO, 31 Oct - South Africa's route to the Rugby World Cup final against England at International Stadium Yokohama on Saturday.

Match 1, Pool B, International Stadium Yokohama, 22 September
New Zealand 23-13 South Africa
This was regarded as a dress rehearsal for the final but it was the All Blacks who laid down an early marker. Handre Pollard put the Springboks ahead with a penalty but missed the next one, and New Zealand duly scored 17 unanswered points. Cheslin Kolbe spearheaded South Africa’s comeback and the Boks were eventually rewarded through a Pieter-Steph du Toit try. When Pollard banged over a stunning drop goal with 20 minutes to go, it was anybody's game at 17-13. But Richie Mo'unga and Beauden Barrett added further penalties.

Match 2, Pool B, City of Toyota Stadium, 28 September
South Africa 57-3 Namibia
It was always going to be one-way traffic between the two southern African nations. The Boks racked up 31 points before half-time, with hooker Mbongeni Mbonambi scoring twice and winger Makazole Mapimpi also scoring two. The commanding performance by second-row Lood de Jager, below, scooped the Player of the Match award, and led to him taking over the No.5 jersey from Franco Mostert for South Africa's big matches.

Match 3, Pool B, Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa, 4 October
South Africa 49-3 Italy
This match would decide second place in the pool. The Springboks did not take Italy lightly, having lost 20-18 to the Azzurri in 2016. South Africa's intent was clear: coach Rassie Erasmus selected six forwards among the replacements to physically overwhelm the Italian pack. In the ensuing fracas, Italy loose-head prop Andrea Lovotti was red-carded for a dangerous tackle on Duane Vermeulen, while both tight-head props had to go off injured, necessitating uncontested scrums. Kolbe stood out for the Boks with two tries as South Africa sealed quarter-final qualification.

Match 4, Pool B, Kobe Misaki Stadium, 8 October
South Africa 66-7 Canada
Given the short turnaround after the Italy match, the Springboks picked a new-look team, and the move paid off. Scrum-half Cobus Reinach's 21-minute hat-trick was the fastest in Rugby World Cup history. South Africa killed off the game with a 47-0 half-time lead. 

Match 5, quarter-final, Tokyo Stadium, 20 October, above
South Africa 26-3 Japan
Would South Africa be able to handle Japan's high-tempo approach? Could the Brave Blossoms stop a juggernaut Springboks forwards pack? Erasmus admitted he was nervous when they went in at half-time leading only 5-3 after Mapimpi's fourth-minute try. But the South Africans had absorbed everything the host nation threw at them. They then slowly subdued their opponents with ruthless defence. Pollard kicked three penalties to stretch the lead to 14-3, and Mapimpi, pictured top, and Faf de Klerk scored two tries within four minutes to end Japan's odyssey.

Match 6, semi-final, International Stadium Yokohama, 27 October
South Africa 19-16 Wales
Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones dubbed this match an arm wrestle. There was no more apt description. With 14 minutes to go, the score was locked at 16-16 before fly-half Pollard confirmed his pre-match prediction that a goal kick could decide the result. He landed a penalty from 30m on an angle with under five minutes to play.

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