Player ratings: Outclassed
OPINION: Despite owning the tag of favourites coming into the game, there was nothing England could do to stop the power and precision of South Africa in Yokohama, as the Springboks wrapped up their third World Cup title with a 32-12 win.
From early handling errors and a beleaguered scrum, England was always in an uphill battle and they simply couldn’t replicate the intensity of the semi-final game they turned in against the All Blacks.
It’s a result that takes England’s tally of World Cup finals to one win and three losses.
Alex Shaw rates the England players!
15. Elliot Daly
Daly defended well when South Africa came at him on the ground, although he was exposed on a couple of occasions by the smart kicking games of Faf de Klerk and Willie le Roux. He wasn’t able to provide the creativity in the midfield and the linking with the wide channels that he usually does.
14. Anthony Watson
The wing was largely contained by South Africa as an attacking threat. He was excellent dealing with the high balls that the Springboks peppered England with, though he wasn’t able to impact the game too much beyond that.
A quiet game from Tuilagi who had a couple of impactful carries and tackles, but they were far and far between across the 80 minutes.
With the struggles in the half-backs, Farrell wasn’t delivered too much good ball to work with, though he invariably made the right decisions and didn’t compound errors. He made four of his five kicks and was one of the more impressive English players in the final, despite the team’s struggles.
11. Jonny May
May was effortlessly consistent. His work chasing kicks and dealing with aerial balls, even under heavy pressure, was flawless. He didn’t get too many opportunities to run at South Africa but when he did, he was good to make a defender or two miss.
10. George Ford
The fly-half lost out on a high ball and kicked out on the full in a disappointing first half. He was part of an England side that struggled with their handling significantly early on. Just couldn’t find a way to influence the game positively with the Springboks pressuring him.
9. Ben Youngs
An out of sorts first half from Youngs, whose passing and decision-making was below par. His box-kicking was relatively effective in terms of distance, though they tended to just outkick the chase. He wasn’t able to change that after the interval.
1. Mako Vunipola
Vunipola was targeted at the scrum by South Africa, as Frans Malherbe and Vincent Koch went to work. His influence in the loose was solid, though, and warrants him a slightly higher rating than the one recorded by Dan Cole.
2. Jamie George
The hooker wasn’t his usual effervescent self in the loose, though he was successful with five of his six lineouts. Overplayed, slightly, sending one offload into touch, when England could have found space on the subsequent phase.
3. Kyle Sinckler
Unfortunately, Sinckler had to leave the pitch after just two minutes as he was seemingly knocked out in an early tackle.
4. Maro Itoje
A quiet game by Itoje’s standards. He led England in tackling in the first half and was able to disrupt a couple of South African mauls, though it was not enough to influence the game in the same ways he had in the quarter-final and semi-final.
5. Courtney Lawes
Perhaps England’s standout player prior to the interval. Lawes’ was his side’s most prominent ball-carrier outside of Billy Vunipola and was the target for all four of their successful first-half lineouts. He was unlucky to be replaced at half-time in a decision that was likely dictated by the struggling scrum.
6. Tom Curry
Curry started the game strongly with a couple of impactful carries and industrious chasing, though South Africa’s physicality advantage began to show as the game went on. He spilt a ball in the backfield and was held up in the carry by opposite number Pieter-Steph du Toit, who was ruthlessly impressive.
7. Sam Underhill
Like Lawes, Underhill was one of the few England players to really step up in the first half. He forced a knock-on in the tackle, an area where he was typically physical, and also stepped up as a carrying and support option.
8. Billy Vunipola
The No8 grew into the game after being part of England’s poor start in terms of handling where his misjudged pass ended up costing his side three points. He stepped up as a carrier, though, as the game went on, and his offloads in contact were usually good for an extra couple of metres for the English pack.
16. Luke Cowan-Dickie
The Exeter hooker connected with both of his lineouts and had one powerful carry.
17. Joe Marler
The arrival of the loosehead significantly boosted England’s struggling scrum and he stemmed the flow of penalties that the English pack was conceding at the set-piece.
18. Dan Cole
It was a tough day at the office for Cole, who had to play 77 minutes and was immediately put under pressure at the scrum by Tendai Mtawarira. It was a problem that was only exacerbated by the arrival of Steven Kitshoff.
19. George Kruis
The lock helped add some ballast to the scrum in the second half and he became the favoured lineout target with Lawes off the pitch.
20. Mark Wilson
Provided fresh energy in the chase and as a tackler, although he wasn’t able to sway the game at that point.
21. Ben Spencer
Came on too late to have a real impact on the game.
22. Henry Slade
His knock-on in the carry gifted the ball to Cheslin Kolbe and wrapped up the win for the Springboks.
23. Jonathan Joseph
Like Spencer, Joseph arrived relatively late and at that point, there was only defending left to be done.