Man of the match Duane Vermeulen revealed South Africa targeted England flankers Tom Curry and Sam Underhill during their dominant 32-12 Rugby World Cup final win.
Number eight Vermeulen was the standout performer in a superlative Springbok pack, whose impressive work at the breakdown allayed with set-piece dominance laid the foundations for victory.
Curry and Underhill – 21 and 23 respectively – have been two of the breakout stars of the tournament and Vermeulen was determined to stop them from having any more joy.
“We knew England had two fantastic young fetchers in Underhill and Curry – they’ve been superb this whole tournament,” he said.
“We knew we had to do something at the breakdown. We got a few turnovers, they got a few and it’s fantastic to walk away with this win.”
South Africa’s superiority at the scrum was frequently compounded by Handre Pollard’s unerring boot, with Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe adding gloss to the scoreline with tries inside the final quarter of an hour.
“We’ve got a good bunch of forwards – the starters, the ‘Bomb Squad’ as they’re known, they’ve made a fantastic impact off the bench,” Vermeulen said.
“They laid a fantastic platform for the guys and you get the advantage in penalties.”
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Mapimpi and captain Siya Kolisi hail from South Africa’s townships and Vermeulen was keen to highlight the symbolic significance of this team for the Rainbow Nation.
“We’re doing it for each other but we’re also doing it for 57 million people back home in South Africa,” he added.
“We wanted to be consistent as a team and try to achieve something – in a way, trying to create hope. Hopefully we achieved that goal.”