Come 11am SA time – just a matter of hours away – a mouth-watering clash between South Africa and England at the International Stadium Yokohama will be underway.
The game will be the 43rd installment of the Anglo-South African rugby contest since the sides first met on December 8, 1906. South Africa have won 25 of those matches with two draws – but critically, in four Rugby World Cup matches, South Africa lead three to one.
England’s only World Cup win against South Africa came on October 18, 2003, in a pool game in Perth where Sir Clive Woodward’s side triumphed 25-6.
In other Rugby World Cup fixtures, South Africa won 44-21 (1999 quarterfinal), 36-0 (2007 pool game) and 15-6 (2007 final).
Last year, the teams met four times, and the matches split two each. Effectively, Saturday’s final will decide the best of five games where they haven’t given each other an inch.
England topped Pool C and saw off Australia and New Zealand to reach the final. South Africa were second in Pool B to the All Blacks, but beat Japan and Wales to get to the showpiece game.
England coach Eddie Jones named an unchanged side from the semifinal while his Springbok counterpart Johan “Rassie” Erasmus has replaced S’bu Nkosi with Cheslin Kolbe at right wing.
Springboks – 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Subs: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Franco Mostert, 21 Francois Louw, 22 Herschel Jantjies, 23 Frans Steyn.
England – 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Owen Farrell (c), 11 Jonny May, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Tom Curry, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Subs: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Dan Cole, 19 George Kruis, 20 Mark Wilson, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Henry Slade, 23 Jonathan Joseph
Referee: Jerome Garces (France)
Assistant referees: Romain Poite (France), Ben O’Keefe (New Zealand)
Television match official: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)
Kickoff: 6pm in Japan, 11am SA time