South Africa have ended New Zealand’s hopes of claiming the Junior World Championship rugby title on home soil, snatching a late 32-25 semi-final win in Auckland.
With two minutes remaining and the score locked up, the big Junior Springboks pack drove from a lineout and hooker Corniel Els grabbed the decisive touchdown in the corner.
First five-eighth Handre Pollard landed the sideline conversion and the skipper then played his part in winding down the final seconds.
The result at Albany sets up a final between South Africa, the 2012 champions, and title-holders England at Eden Park on Friday night.
New Zealand, winners of the first four titles in the under-20 tournament’s seven-year history, were looking to avenge their 33-24 pool defeat to South Africa.
They struck first through hooker Hame Faiva, who scored the first of three good team tries.
In a contest that ebbed and flowed, the sides then swapped tries. South Africa touched down through a 40-metre Pollard intercept followed by winger Sergeal Petersen’s opportunist effort.
For New Zealand, winger Tevita Li added to the hat-trick he got in the pool match.
When fellow winger Vincent Tavae-Aso went over, and fullback Damian McKenzie landed the conversion from wide out, the home side were up 25-20 with 15 minutes to go.
But South African outside-back Andre Esterhuizen barged his way over to level the scores before Els got the winner.
In the earlier semi-final, England rumbled past Ireland 42-15, running in five tries to two.
England showed their forward power by mauling their way to the line for tries to hooker Tom Woolstencroft and flanker Gus Jones.
But there was also plenty of enterprise in their game, especially in the opening spell, when they sped to a 34-3 lead.
As England took their foot off the pedal in the second half, the Irish did manage to cross twice through centre Garry Ringrose and wing Alex Wootton.