New Zealand will have to go for Rugby World Cup glory with just 14 men after captain Sam Cane received the first-ever red card in a final.
The All Blacks skipper was initially handed a yellow card and sin binned for his challenge on Jesse Kriel, which saw him hit his opposite number with his shoulder making contact with Kriel’s head.
Referee Wayne Barnes dismissed the player but Cane had to wait for the final verdict as the incident was reviewed by the bunker review officer.
After a nervous few moments for Ian Foster’s side, the card was upgraded the tackle was deemed highly dangerous.
Remarkably, Cane’s red is the first ever to be handed out at a Rugby World Cup, which will leave New Zealand set to break new ground after half-time.
The All Blacks may have thought they were out of danger after Shannon Frizzell escaped an upgrade for his challenge on Bongi Mbonambi.
Just minutes into the start of the contest, the South African hooker entered a ruck to challenge for the ball.
However, at the breakdown, Frizzell made no attempt to roll away and instead seemed to grab the 32-year-old’s neck and drag the South African away before he landed awkwardly on the back of his leg.
After a TMO review, Wayne Barnes showed Frizzell the yellow card with a bunker review taking place to decide whether to upgrade it to a red card – but the player was able to come back onto the pitch before the break.
All Blacks legend Sean Fitzpatrick was realistic with his thoughts on Cane’s dismissal at half-time.
‘When you look at it like that in real time, there’s no doubt it’s a red card,’ Fitzpatrick shared on ITV. ‘But we’ve got to get on with it.’
More to follow.