Semi Final 2: South Africa vs England

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This is going to be a classic! The replay of the 2019 World Cup final where the South Africans humiliated England is going to be a battle for the ages. 

England had not been their 6-Nations-winning-Grand-Slam-winning-World-Cup-final making best lately, in fact far from it. They have had a horrible two years. 

But, something that has shifted in their ranks. 

Steve Borthwick has gotten a lot of criticism since taking over the reins. If someone told you though that England would be in the semi-finals of the 2023 World Cup at the start of the year, you would have laughed them right off. 

Is England brilliant again? Definitely not. Have they been able to find a way to get the results? That is a resounding “Yes!”

They started with what I thought was an upset win against Argentina in their first game. They then cruised through their pool for the most part even though they weren’t convincing at times. 

Against Fiji, they managed to find the win. Then battled valiantly throughout the contest while their players were battered and bruised, and here they are now, in the semi-final.

What would it take for England to win? I can’t really see on paper or from their recent play how they will realistically win this one. 

They would need to find a way to stop the marauding South African forwards first, which I think would be nearly impossible for most teams. Then they need to contain the exciting back 3 of South Africa, which has proven to be difficult for most teams the past 2 years. 

Then, they would need to do this for 80 minutes and hope that the South Africans have an off day. 

I don’t think South Africa will have an off day, to be honest.

They have been building up steadily and played one of the all-time best classic Rugby World Cup matches against the French the past weekend. 

The French team is simply a much better side than the English at the moment. 

The South African team I think will go with the same 5/3 split for the weekend to give themselves a number of good options to dismantle England.

The forward pack should remain the same.

I think Faf de Klerk might come in for Reinach just because he has the experience in these types of matches and does a better job of disrupting opposition attacks, often like an extra over-eager flanker. 

It would also be sensible to have Pollard starting with Manie on the bench. South Africa might lose a little attacking flair but would gain scoreboard pressure with the penalties. 

On the bench, I would replace Willie Le Roux with Canan Moodie. It will bring in more options for the back 3 as well as coverage at the outside center position. 

The South Africans should come away with a similar score to the 2019 final with about a 20-point winning margin. 

The question is; can England can find a way to win two matches in a row, despite the odds against them?