New Zealand took a step closer to Rugby World Cup history after edging a titanic struggle against South Africa in Saturday’s opening semifinal.
The All Blacks, seeking to become the first team to retain the title, and the first to win it three times, triumphed 20-18 against the Springboks in wet conditions at Twickenham.
Steve Hansen’s team will face either Australia or Argentina in next weekend’s final.
Replacement winger Beauden Barrett scored a crucial second-half try, which Dan Carter converted to put New Zealand 17-12 ahead.
The Springboks, who have also won the tournament twice, could not score a try but kept the pressure on as New Zealand paid the price for ill-discipline.
Carter’s 60th-minute penalty restored the five-point advantage, but replacement Patrick Lambie kicked a goal to ensure a tense final 10 minutes as the rain got heavier and the play more desperate.
South Africa led 12-7 at halftime through four Handre Pollard penalties.
The fourth of those kicks, just before the interval, came after All Blacks flanker Jerome Kaino was sin-binned for deliberate offside play.
Kaino had scored the only try of the half, in the sixth minute, when he crossed in the right corner after making a huge fend on South Africa lock Lodewyk de Jager.
Carter, international rugby’s leading points scorer, was able to convert at the second attempt after Bryan Habana rushed him too soon.
Carter had the chance to put New Zealand 10-9 ahead in the 32nd minute, but the flyhalf — who is moving to French club Racing Metro — hit the post with his penalty attempt.