Sam Cane became the first player to be red carded in a Rugby World Cup final, and he could have few complaints.
The All Blacks skipper was far too high when he tackled Jesse Kriel, which led to him being yellow carded.
It went for an off-field review in the bunker and they decided that there was no mitigation and that Cane’s yellow should be upgraded to a red.
The 𝐟𝐢𝐫𝐬𝐭-𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫 red card in a men's Rugby World Cup final 🟥
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New Zealand’s ill-discipline was a theme of the first half as South Africa lost their only recognised hooker in the early stages of the match when Bongi Mbonambi was illegally cleared out by Shannon Frizell.
Just a couple of minutes had elapsed of the World Cup final when the Springboks front-rower attempted to pilfer the ball at the breakdown.
He got into a good position over the ball but flanker Frizell came in and put his weight on the leg of Mbonambi.
The hooker’s knee collapsed and looked in significant pain, which forced him to go off after just three minutes.
It is the type of clearout that World Rugby are trying to outlaw and Frizell duly received a yellow card for his indiscretion.
The incident was reminiscent of Darcy Swain’s shocking attempt on Quinn Tupaea, which ruled the centre out for a lengthy period and effectively ruined his World Cup hopes.
Swain was yellow carded at the time but he was cited after the match and was subsequently handed a six-week ban.
Frizell was also sin-binned but, unlike the Wallabies lock, it will be a surprise if it is brought before a disciplinary panel following the final.
It was deemed that the All Blacks back-rower had not targeted the leg, which meant he escaped with just a yellow card.
Springboks take control
That incident rather summed up New Zealand’s opening half-hour as they struggled for territory and possession.
They conceded a number of penalties and that allowed Handre Pollard to kick successive penalties and take them into a 6-0 advantage.
Richie Mo’unga would reduce the arrears from the tee, but another Pollard three-pointer moved the Boks three points in front.
The All Blacks were getting frustrated and that perhaps led to Cane’s act when his shoulder hit the head of Kriel, which eventually led to a red card.
South Africa’s fly-half then made it a nine-point game but, to their credit, the All Blacks responded and Mo’unga gave them hope going into the second period with a second successful effort off the tee.