South Africa’s Pollard sees World Cup final ‘chess match’

South Africa's Handre Pollard, right, hugs Wales' Josh Adams following their Rugby World Cup semifinal at International Yokohama Stadium in Yokohama, Japan, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019. (AP)
Updated 27 October 2019

South Africa’s Pollard sees World Cup final ‘chess match’

  • Pollard stroked four penalties
  • England produced one of their finest performances

YOKOHAMA: South Africa fly-half Handre Pollard predicted a “chess match” against England in next weekend’s Rugby World Cup final, warning the Springboks were prepared to “grind it out” against Eddie Jones’s men.
Pollard stroked four penalties and a conversion in a man-of-the-match performance that took South Africa to within one game of a third World Cup trophy with a 19-16 win.
But he said the Springboks had a mountain to climb against an England side that played “unbelievably well” against the All Blacks in the other semifinal.
“Physically they stepped it up to a new level so we’re going to have to stop them... I think it’s two sides that really pride themselves on a good kicking game as well. So, it’s going to be a good chess match,” said Pollard.
England produced one of their finest performances to dismantle the All Blacks 19-7 on Saturday and will likely go into the final favorites after South Africa edged past Wales in a scrappy encounter.
Pollard said South Africa had been prepared to dig in for victory against Wales and would do the same if necessary come Saturday.
“Grinding it out is something we believe in. That’s what it takes to win play-off games and World Cups,” said the fly-half.
“We weren’t accurate at stages but we ground it out and that’s something we’ll take a lot of confidence off going into next week,” he added.
Pollard said he expected to come up against the England playmaking combination of Owen Farrell and George Ford, and made no effort to hide his admiration for the two English stars.
“They’ll probably go Ford-Farrell again. That’s a pretty good combo. Doesn’t get much better than that!” he told reporters.
He admitted to some nerves as he took the decisive penalty at 16-16 to break Welsh hearts but said he had trained for such moments, both mentally and in terms of technique.
“You want to be in those positions as a fly-half and as a kicker. You want to have that pressure on you and you execute,” he said.
Meanwhile, scrum-half Faf de Klerk said South Africa had learned a lot from England’s performance against the All Blacks that they could use against Eddie Jones’s men.
And de Klerk pointed to discipline as the main area for Springbok improvement after South Africa conceded nine penalties against the Welsh.
“The main thing is going to be penalty count. Our penalty count was way too high,” said de Klerk.


Asia Cup cricket tournament postponed to 2021

Updated 10 min 41 sec ago

Asia Cup cricket tournament postponed to 2021

  • Travel restrictions, various national quarantine requirements, and the ongoing threat of the coronavirus were the main obstacles to staging the tournament
  • Sri Lanka is expected to host the Asia Cup in June 2021

Cricket’s Asia Cup in September was postponed to 2021 on Thursday.
Travel restrictions, various national quarantine requirements, and the ongoing threat of the coronavirus were the main obstacles to staging the biennial Twenty20 tournament, the Asian Cricket Council said.
The 2018 tournament featured winner India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Hong Kong.
Sri Lanka is expected to host the Asia Cup in June 2021.
“Conducting the event in a responsible manner remains the priority of the ACC,” it said in a statement, adding it “is currently working toward securing June 2021 as a suitable window.”