Rugby World Cup: Semi-final previews
England meet South Africa in the second Rugby World Cup semi-final tonight, with Steve Borthwick’s men set to battle the Springboks for a place in next Sunday’s final. It is a repeat of the 2019 final in Japan, which South Africa won convincingly, and they will feel confident once again despite their opposition being the only unbeaten team left in the tournament.
England come in as underdogs despite their impressive victory over Fiji in the quarter-finals, but at the same stage the Springboks defeated hosts France and their sheer physical dominance will be tough for any team to match with a place in the final on the line.
Borthwick has made three changes from the quarter-final win as Freddie Steward returns at full-back, while Joe Marler’s scrummaging expertise comes into the front row at the expense of Ellis Genge. George Martin has also been handed a surprise start alongside fellow lock Maro Itoje, with Ollie Chessum missing out.
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Revenge on the agenda
Tonight’s match is, of course, a repeat of the Rugby World Cup final in Japan four years ago when South Africa cruised to a 32-12 victory.
Steve Borthwick has named 13 members of that England team to face the Springboks tonight and there will certainly be some extra motivation to avenge their heartache from 2019.
South Africa team news
Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber has named an unchanged side from last weekend’s quarter-final win over tournament hosts France.
He said earlier this week: “We have a squad of 33 players, all of whom are very closely matched in terms of their skill and quality of play, which made it tempting to make changes this week.
“It was tough to select this group both last week and this week, but we feel it’s now time to go with the players in the squad who we believe are in their best form.”
England team news
Here’s a look at the England side that will be tasked with beating the Springboks tonight.
Steve Borthwick makes three changes from the quarter-final win over Argentina, with Freddie Steward stepping back in at full-back for Marcus Smith.
Joe Marler and George Martin also come in at loosehead prop and second-row respectively, replacing Ellis Genge and Ollie Chessum, who drop to the bench.
Hello and welcome to Express Sport‘s live coverage of the Rugby World Cup semi-final between England and South Africa, which kicks off at 8pm.
We’ll be on hand to provide updates from tonight’s crunch encounter at the Stade de France, with a place in next Sunday’s final at stake.
Can England get the job done against the odds? Or will they get steamrolled by the Springboks yet again?
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