South Africa lifts the Rugby world cup

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Paris, oct 21: South Africa fullback Percy Montgomery kicked the Springboks to a 15-6 victory over defending champions England today in a World Cup final full of atmosphere but short of excitement.

Montgomery took his points total for the tournament past the century mark by converting each of his four penalty attempts.

Francois Steyn kicked the other three points with a penalty midway through the second half.

South Africa, who won the World Cup at home in 1995, joined Australia as the only country to win the William Webb Elis trophy twice.

Kicking dominated a game in which England, whose title defence seemed doomed when they were humiliated 36-0 by the Springboks in the pool stage, were attempting to become the first side to successfully defend the trophy.

After South Africa had taken a 9-3 halftime lead on a chilly autumn evening at the Stade de France, England centre Mathew Tait threatened to set the game alight two minutes after the break.

Tait scooped up a wayward pass from Andy Gomarsall and set off on a startling solo run past four would-be tackles.

He was dragged down on the line and the ball was quickly recycled left for wing Mark Cueto to drive over in the corner in Fourie du Preez's tackle. After a lengthy deliberation the television match official Stuart Dickinson decided the winger's foot had been in touch before he grounded the ball.

LINEOUT ASCENDANCY

South Africa stole two early England lineouts and got their first points in the seventh minute when Tait was penalised for holding on after losing his foothold on the slippery surface.

Montgomery kicked a simple penalty from 18 metres straight in front of the posts.

England's 2003 match winner Jonny Wilkinson replied five minutes later with a fine kick from the right touchline when England swung the ball wide to the right and Bryan Habana was penalised for not releasing.

Montgomery put South Africa ahead again two minutes later after Lewis Moody had been penalised for tripping South Africa flyhalf Butch James.

Wilkinson sliced a drop kick wide of the uprights and South Africa's long-distance specialist Steyn was short with a penalty from a metre inside England's half.

South Africa had the best chance of a first-half try when they pilfered the ball from another England lineout and Steyn stretched the England defence to the limit with a burst through the middle. The ball moved left and first Steyn, again, and then John Smit were stopped just short of the line.

England won a scrum after a South Africa knock on but after four resets they were penalised for handling in the ruck and Montgomery kicked his third penalty.

Although Wilkinson kicked his second penalty immediately after the Cueto try was disallowed, two further penalties to the Springboks gave them a comfortable cushion.

England fullback Jason Robinson, playing his final international, limped off the field six minutes into the second half and although England used their entire bench they were unable to breach the Springboks' defence.

South Africa lock Victor Matfield, who had an immense game in the middle of the lineout and produced one clever touch in the loose with a cross-field kick, was deservedly named man-of-the-match.

Reuters
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