The drive for five is over.
South Africa denied New Zealand an opportunity at a fifth Junior World Championship crown with a grinding second-half display that forced New Zealand into mistakes.
There was enough intensity and drama to keep the most ardent cynic at bay and had many of the 8000 fans on their feet. The steam rising high off the scrum was a metaphor for the cauldron in this clash, where both sides brought ferocious commitment and vigour to their work. It was played like a test match between the All Blacks and Springboks.
You would think with the sheer number of box kicks raining down from both that the rugby itself was tedious. You would be wrong. NZ exploded into their work, virtually error-free for the opening 10 minutes, defusing almost every "bomb" and moving the ball at pace and with width. Their accuracy generally and in the key set-pieces was light years ahead of their 33-24 pool loss to the same opponents, and yet they could have pulled away by halftime had they taken every chance.
The South Africans persisted with high balls, much like Australia did in the 2011 Rugby World Cup semifinal. But unlike the Wallabies then, they got more return as they forced mistakes. Second five Grant Esterhuizen bulldogged his way over in the 70th minute to level the score and hooker Corniel Els drove over off another effective lineout drive.
New Zealand hooker Hame Faiva played like a man possessed in the opening exchanges, scoring the first try after a superbly constructed movement where Tevita Li gave the last pass. New Zealand's second went to Li, whose fifth of the tournament had its genesis in another well-timed high ball take by the brilliant Damian McKenzie.
Flanker Lachlan Boshier was ubiquitous and Mitch Drummond was top value at halfback.
But Handre Pollard was not to be kept out of the game. The South Africa No 10 intercepted a loose Vince Aso pass to bolt between the uprights and become the highest points scorer in JWC history. He stands deep to kick, but his influence is huge on this South Africa team, and he could have scored in all four ways with any luck.
The harsh sinbinning of Esterhuizen did not aid South Africa's cause, but a tap-back by New Zealand captain Anton Lienert-Brown from a bomb did. Wing Sergeal Petersen was the grateful recipient and South Africa pulled it back to 18-17. Lock JD Schickerling was winning his usual quota of lineouts and South Africa stuck to their structures, angling for some luck or a penalty. Slowly they put the squeeze on New Zealand, who started to make the odd error. It was game on, and the crowd knew it.
England are justifiably confident in their game after winning their semifinal in such style, but this will give them plenty of food for thought for Friday night's final.
South Africa 32 (Handre Pollard, Sergeal Petersen, Grant Esterhuizen, Corniel Els tries; Pollard 3 cons, 2 pens)
New Zealand 25 (Hame Faiva, Tevita Li, Vince Aso tries; Damian McKenzie 2 cons, 2 pens) HT: 10-15