Despite being 20kg lighter than the 920kg English pack, the South Africans won six scrum penalties in the first half alone, earning kickable points for Pollard and destroying any chance of a set-piece platform for the English.
Springboks’ head coach Rassie Erasmus was however reluctant to divulge too much detail of his plan to undermine one of his opponent’s primary strengths.
“I don’t want to sound very clever afterwards because that pisses a lot of people off. It is a spin-off the way we have played the last five games, keep it tight especially in the six-day turnaround.”
“As a Springbok pack we take a lot of pride in our set-piece,” noted ‘The Beast’. “All tournament it’s been working for us up front. We went out there to get ascendancy and it was great to get a few penalties in the first half.
“We wanted to get ascendancy up front. It’s something we have been working on for a long time to improve it. All the hard work paid off tonight. All eight made a huge difference.”
He did however off his commiserations to England tighthead Kyle Sinckler. The Harlequin was forced off after just three minutes following an accidental collision England lock Maro Itoje.
“It’s never nice to see a player come off so early in the game. He’s had a great tournament and been playing really well, so I feel sorry for him.”
'When the scrum started to go south on England, when they started throwing passes on the ground, and they couldn't score after 20 odd phases, the doubts creep in' #RWCfinal #ENGvRSA pic.twitter.com/OUzEmiLhQl
— RTÉ Rugby (@RTErugby) November 2, 2019
Replacement Steven Kitshoff was left in awe of the job the Boks frontrow did on England.
“Beast, Mbongi and Frans (Malherbe) put on a massive performance when it came to scrum time. They put the English pack under so much pressure.”
England forwards coach Steve Borthwick was magnanimous in face of the superior pack performance of the South Africans.
If there's one thing you can be sure of with a French ref, it's that their first impression of the scrum will last 80 minutes, regardless of whether they have a clue what's going on.#RWCFinal #ENGvRSA
“Credit to South Africa for what they did, especially in that first half when they got the ascendancy. We’ll look at it. Do I have the reasons right now? No, I don’t. It’s something we have to look at closely and think about.”
South Africa assistant coach Matthew Proudfoot was understandably proud of his charges’ set-piece performance.
“There is incredible belief in our scrum, in what we do, it’s something the pack really thrive on. We’ve been seeking eight front row forwards.
The Beast is off but England's scrum woes continue. Yet another penalty conceded and Pollard makes it 15-6. #ENGvRSA
— Gavin Mairs (@GavinMairs) November 2, 2019
“We knew in play-off rugby it’s so crucial, we’ve been developing pressure points. I would not say England have any weaknesses at the scrum, they’ve been great. They put New Zealand under pressure.
“We take pride in our scrum. Losing your starting tight-head after a first few minutes must be tough to respond to. It gave us a chance to get a foothold and put pressure on them.”
“That first scrum allowed us to keep applying the pressure. we said after that let’s keep looking for more scrums.
Easiest way for England not to be in all kinds of scrum trouble is to stop dropping the ball. Sharpen up that handling and it won't be a decisive factor in the game.
— Alex Shaw (@alexshawsport) November 2, 2019
“I must say Beast (Tendai Mtawarira), a man who has 119 caps, stays hungry as anything. On Monday he said, ‘what can I work on in my game’?
“I said, ‘let’s just worry about the final’. He’s been really exceptional and wanting to end his career on a high note. I thought he was great tonight.”
Sam Underhill seemed in the ‘dark’ about what happened: “The dark arts are lost on me, mate, I just get my head down and push. We spoke a bit about it, the boys that needed to speak about it spoke about it. It did get better which is a good thing.”
Springbok tighthead Frans Malherbe: “The game worked out well for us. The scrums went well in the first half and, as a prop forward, there is nothing more you can ask for. Really, really happy with the performance from everyone.
“We tried to isolate ourselves from all those talks going on outside. We had our plan and tried to stick with our plan.
“We only had two training days and the focus was on executing our plan, and all the outside noise and mind-games or whatever.”
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